“No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, because all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15 NASB
“A real friend walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” Walter Winchell
What a friend we have in Jesus, the song goes. I remember meditating on this hymn in the emergency room suffering through a miscarriage. Joseph M. Scriven wrote the poem to comfort his dying mother and later was set to music into the hymn we sing today. He entitled the poem, Pray without Ceasing. There’s not a lot known about this Irish poet, but in 1860 he was to marry and his fiancé died from pneumonia. However, he continued to teach, mentor and write hymns. This hymn has comforted, encouraged and inspired Christians for years. Many of the old hymns are like the Psalms. They teach, lament, hope, grieve, praise, comfort unlike any book, person, retreat or seminar because they’re available all the time. Like Jesus.
The NASB quote says “slaves.” Other translations say servants. I chose the translation slaves because we were slaves, slaves to sin. Now there’s a beautiful and trustworthy friendship where once was hostility and enmity. This relationship overflows with intimacy, sharing secrets, learning, encouragement, trust and affection. I don’t always like myself. Others don’t always like me. But (Jesus loves me this I know) from another old and cherished song) and you unconditionally with only the best intent for us.
No one can be the perfect friend, spouse or mentor. As much as I loved my son and my husband, I was not perfect. No one can perfectly provide the ultimate love for us. Jesus is the only one that will never, ever leave us Jesus is the only one that will never forsake us. He’s here at any hour, at any place. God said even if our mother forgets us, he will never forget us. We have the Perfect Friend. We are loved.
When times are tough, grief violently abuses us, understanding is gone, addictions harass and torment and loneliness engulfs, may this little hymn remind us we have the very best friend of all. And he wins!
On another note: If you’re contemplating suicide or another urgent need, please call a hotline in your area, church, addiction center or community center. Jesus is the best friend but we need people help along the bumpy road of life, too.
What a Friend we Have in Jesus – First stanza
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!
To grasp that you, the creator of Jesus, the creator of the universe, of us, want friendship with us, an intimate relationship, is indescribable! But you do. Beyond all we ask or think, we Prodigals thank you for embracing us each time we come to you, whether we feel it or not. Whether we understand it or not. We know that troubles bring us closer to you.