When looking the lyrics to this well-known hymn I discovered that the fiancee of the writer, Joseph Scriven, drowned the night before they were to be married. Scriven emigrated from Ireland to Canada shortly thereafter. Sometime later he became engaged again only to lose his fiancee again prior to their marriage. This is the story of the man who later penned these words:
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 your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.
As I read the above words once again, I realize that these were not pretty or idle words someone just threw down on a piece of paper. These were written by a man who had suffered tragedy and heartbreak. I have no doubt there were moments of terrible grief when he must have cried out to God, "Where are you?" Yet the words of this song tell us what he did and what we should do as well. Regardless of how much pain and suffering we bear, God is our ever present help, strength and comfort.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
This is the love Christ has for us... and we must never forget it!