«Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me» (John 15:15).
Joseph Scriven was twenty-five years old. He was in love and about to get married, but the day before his wedding, his fiancée drowned in a tragic accident. Brokenhearted, Joseph set sail from his native Ireland across the Atlantic Ocean to begin a new life in Canada. He settled in Ontario and, on a riverbank, made a commitment to God to live his life according to the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, to always serve others and reflect Jesus ‘ s love. He began to be known in his town for being «the good Samaritan of Port Hope. »
Several years went by and he began working as a school teacher. There, he fell in love with Eliza, one of his student’s relatives. They were engaged and about to be married when Joseph’s hopes and dreams were once again unexpectedly shattered. Eliza fell gravely ill and died a few weeks before the wedding.
Having experienced pain and loneliness, he once again turned to God for strength and comfort. His faith in Him, as well as his daily close walk with Him, helped Joseph to carry on.
Shortly after Eliza’s death, Joseph found out his mother was very ill. Since he couldn’t go back to see her, he wrote her a letter to encourage and comfort her, and he attached one of his poems entitled «What a Friend We Have in Jesus! » He had known a God who is willing to bear our burdens and heal our pain.
Toward the end of his days, which had always been spent helping those less fortunate than he was, a friend visited him and found this poem among others.
Today, it’s a hymn that is sung by millions of Christians of many denominations and cultures. And the truth is that the love of God, which sustained Joseph during his worst times, is the same love that can sustain you today.
I invite you to think about the words of this hymn and to sing it with conviction. In His Word, Jesus called us His friends. Through our lives, we can also show that we call Him a Friend.
Oh, what peace we often forfeit. Oh, what needless pain we bear. What a privilege to carry everything to Him in prayer!