What a Friend We Have in Jesus
All Our Sins and Griefs to Bear
What a Privilege to Carry
Everything to God in Prayer
This is one of our favorite hymns and like so many other treasured hymns, it carries new meaning when we discover the story behind the lyrics. Joseph Scriven was born into wealth in Dublin, Ireland, yet met his share of hardships at a young age. His new faith estranged him from his parents. The night before he was to be married, his fiancé tragically drowned. Distraught, he moved to Canada and began a new life. He later fell in love again, and his fiancé again tragically died. He became a local schoolteacher and tutor to disadvantaged children. Throughout the town of Port Hope, he was known as “The Good Samaritan.” He continually helped others with his thoughtful deeds.
Ten years after leaving his family in Ireland, he received word that his mother was seriously ill. Scriven quickly wrote a poem that he never intended to be published. That letter became the song, which we know as “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Out of Joseph Scriven’s many trials came forth a hymn we hold dear to this day.
Great works of art may never be the result of our tragedies, but we can emulate the life of Joseph Scriven. When sudden death or despair grips our lives, it is easy to retreat and stop serving people. But through our grief, we can be a light to those who don’t know Christ and a comfort to others who suffer as we do.
Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.