Today in our prayer time at the beginning of our working day at Compassion UK, Charlotte led and told us she had recently sung “What a Friend we have in Jesus” at her local Methodist Church. She told us the story of the writer of “What a Friend we have in Jesus”, Joseph Scriven, that his two fiancees had died just before he was due to marry them and how he came to write the poem.
This reminded me of a testimony I have from five years ago:
I was feeling a bit low on Wednesday (28 July 2010). I drove into Chesterfield (Derbyshire, UK) and sat by a Funfair in the town centre eating my lunch when, all of a sudden, I heard the Organ on the Carousel playing the tune to “What A Friend We Have in Jesus”. I then walked to the Oxfam shop where I was starting working that afternoon. I put a CD of South African Gospel music onto the CD player in the shop. What a lovely surprise to hear the first song on the CD (in a South African local dialect) was “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. Praise God.
On the Friday (30 July 2010) as I was at home filling in an application form for a job, I heard Cliff Richard singing “What a Friend we have in Jesus” on UCB Inspirational Radio. I thought about how “connected” God has made me to this song. The Cliff Richard book “You, Me and Jesus” led me to God in 1985 and another Cliff Richard book led me to Pioneer church in 1994.
“What a Friend we have in Jesus” was written by Joseph Scriven. My best friend at college was Sue Aldridge. I was a bridesmaid to her when she became Sue Scriven.
Sue and Graham Scriven’s two daughters were then my bridesmaids when I married John Wilson in 1988. On our honeymoon in Harrogate we were surprised to find a nearby village was called Scriven. And it was in Chesterfield (where I was comforted by hearing the song twice on Wednesday, 28 July 2010) that I was divorced on 21 July 1997.
I also remember that I went to Rhodes for my 50th birthday on a Master Sun Christian holiday and we sang “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” on that holiday.
Later on 30 July 2010 I looked up “Scriven” on “Rightmove” (a UK “property for sale” website) and found that the “Old Smithy” in Scriven was for sale. How amusing, since Smith is my maiden name!!!!
On Thursday, 5 August 2010, I looked up Joseph Scriven – Writer of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and found that I married on the anniversary of his birth/christening (10 September 1819) and my sister was born on the anniversary of his death (10 August 1886).
I also discovered I was born and my sister was christened on the anniversary of the death of the man who set Joseph Scriven’s poem to music (Charles Crozat Converse who died on 18 October 1918). What an amazing number of God-incidences to link me, my sister and my wedding party to Joseph Scriven and the words of his poem. I became a Christian when my husband left me in 1994 and I have experienced, and indeed experience on a daily basis, the friendship of Jesus.
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!
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 Saviour, 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 Saviour, 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.