During the Civil War, President Lincoln received many requests for pardons from soldiers who were sentenced to die for desertion. Each appeal was frequently accompanied by numerous testimonial letters from friends and powerful people.
One day, the President received an appeal for a pardon that stood out; it arrived without a single document or letter vouching for the prisoner. Lincoln was surprised by this and asked the officer in charge about it. To Lincoln’s amazement, the officer on duty said that the soldier had not one friend and that his entire family had been killed in the war. The president considered that piece of information and told the officer that he would render a decision on the matter in the morning.
Lincoln wrestled with the issue all night. Desertion was no small matter. Overruling a death sentence would send the wrong message to other solders. Yet he found it difficult not to have sympathy for someone so alone in the world.
In the morning when the officer asked the president for his decision, he was shocked to hear Lincoln say that the testimony of a friend had sealed his decision on the solder in question. When the officer reminded the president that the request had come with no letter of reference, Lincoln simply stated, “I will be his friend.” He then signed the request and pardoned the man.
Moral: There’s nothing more powerful than choosing to be someone’s friend when they need you the most. This is what Jesus did for us. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)