The Gift of Friendship
Friendship begins with God. We have a divine invitation to come to the Lord. He desires to transform strangers and aliens into His friends and true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
One of our favorite hymns is titled “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” The man who penned the words to this hymn was Joseph Scriven. Mr. Scriven was born in Ireland and immigrated to Canada.
Mr. Scriven left Ireland after he was engaged to be married and his wife-to-be drowned in an accident, breaking his heart. He moved to Canada a number of years later, met another young lady, and they fell in love. Just weeks before they were to be married, she became very ill and died. He was twenty-five-years-old and broken-hearted again.
Joseph determined as a twenty-five year old man that he would give the rest of his life to helping poor people. He became known in his community as a man who carried around a saw with him to do work for people. He could not be employed for money; he did his work for no charge. Anywhere there were poor people in need of help, he pitched in and helped them. He became a true friend of the poor.
He received news from his homeland that his mother was seriously ill in Dublin, Ireland, but he did not have enough money to visit his dying mother. Instead of making the long journey which he could not afford, he wrote a poem for her, the poem we now know as this song:
What a Friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Ev’rything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Ev’rything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful Who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our ev’ry weakness Take it to the Lord in prayer.
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.
An American attorney later put music to the poem, and we sing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Mr. D.L. Moody made the song famous by using it in his travels, especially in England.
The hymn is precious to me because it was one of the only songs my father knew, and I heard him whistle the tune often before he died. It rings a true note in all of our hearts, the note that we are never alone and never forsaken. We shall never have a friend to compare with the Lord Jesus. What a friend we have in Jesus!