IS HE YOUR FRIEND
Since “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” is among the many hymns that inspire me, it was wonderful learning the history behind this song. Do we, as Christians, realize how many people are out there in our personal realms that need a friend? Are we open to being a friend to the people who seem like they don’t like us? Many times we expect others to come to us instead of finding out what is going on with a person in our immediate sphere.
Several years ago there was a familiar denomination that challenged its members to make a friend with a sinner. So often we make friends in our own little circle of “Christians” rather than reaching out to someone who we could befriend and building a relationship of encouragement and friendship when it is most needed. The best way to win someone to the Lord is to love them when they don’t know how to love you back. The person, who is so overcome with problems that we want to run when we see he/she walking toward us, is the exact one that we should warmly receive. This is definitely a person who needs our witness of Christ’s love and strength to get him/her through the problems that have over taken this weak one.
Please allow the history of this wonderful song to ignite your desire to be a friend to someone that you have to go beyond your capability to love. The Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) is in you if you have received Christ as your Lord so you can do this with the help of the Holy Spirit.
“A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: And there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24 KJV)
It has been said that a true friend accepts us just as we are and will stay by our side through bad times, and is willing to help us through difficult times.
Joseph Scriven, 1819-1886, was the author of this hymn. He was wealthy, educated, had a devoted family, and a joyful life in his homeland of Ireland. On the eve of Scriven’s wedding date, his fiancée drowned. In his severe grief, Joseph realized that he could only find comfort and peace in his best friend, Jesus.
Shortly after this horrible experience, Scriven determined to change his lifestyle rather dramatically. He decided to leave Ireland for Port Hope, Canada, with the desire and devotion to spend all of his excess time in helping others. He would give away his clothing and possessions to those in need as well as working (without pay) for anyone that he decided might need him. Scriven was known as “the Good Samaritan of Port Hope.”
Scriven’s mother became ill in Ireland and he penned a letter to her, in which he included the words to this newly written poem with a prayer that the lines would encourage her to remember her truest friend, the Heavenly Father. There came a time in Joseph Striven’s life when he was sick and a friend came to see him. The friend noticed the words to the poem scribbled on a piece of paper near his bed. This friend read the lines with great interest and questioned, “Who wrote those beautiful words?” Scriven’s answer: “The Lord and I did it between us.”
What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything 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 every weakness—Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, 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.