What a Friend we Have in Jesus

Joseph Scriven (1819-1886)

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

Joseph Scriven, who wrote this well-known hymn, was born in Ireland. As a young man his health was poor. He was engaged to be married to his childhood sweetheart but on the night before their wedding she tragically drowned.

He moved to Ontario Canada where years later he was again engaged but his fiancée died of pneumonia. Despite loneliness, poverty and poor health he spent his life helping those in need, as well as teaching and ministering.

Hearing that his mother in Ireland was going through a distressing time he wrote this poem and sent it to her.

… Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

I’m musing this morning on Jesus words, ‘Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’ (John15:13) We often use the word ‘friend’ when we mean ‘acquaintance’; Jesus’ description here involve something much deeper.

  • Constant friendship – It’s consistent over time.
  • Costly friendship – It gives: it’s loving, ‘laying down its life’.
  • Complete friendship – There are no gaps: it remains through all situations.

Through grief and sadness Joseph Scriven understood love and friendship. His faith brought him a friendship that brought comfort and hope.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

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