Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What a Friend!

Saturday night my husband pulled out his guitar and started strumming an old hymn:  What a Friend We Have in Jesus.  

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.

The Irish poet, Joseph Scriven, penned these words and he was no stranger to pain.  Nor was he immune to suffering.

Allow me to explain.  You see, the night before his wedding day he received startling news.  His bride-to-be had tragically drowned.   Needless to say he was devastated.  He needed a fresh start.  So he moved to Canada, fell in love and once again became engaged.  This time his fiance died tragically from pneumonia.  What a blow. 

Did he give up hope?  Did he fall deep in despair?  No.  He decided to dedicate the rest of his life to helping others.   He grabbed an ax and began chopping wood for anyone who needed it.   Maybe it was therapeutic.  The rhythm, the cadence, the repetition.  Maybe the notion of providing warmth to those most in need, warmed his heart.  At any rate, by God's grace, he turned his suffering into service. 

The words we sing were originally a poem titled, "Pray Without Ceasing."  He didn't compose it to gain worldwide recognition or fame.  These were words carefully chosen and penned.  Heartfelt words poured out of his soul. Joseph's mother was terribly sick.  She was far away in Ireland.  The words we sing are more than just an invitation to prayer.  They are words of comfort that son offers his mother:  a broken heart encouraging a broken body.   Inspiring. 

Today I am challenged.  Am I allowing God to turn my suffering into service? 

Or am I prone to forget what a friend we have in Jesus?  

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