What a Friend we have in Jesus

Over the past week, a hymn I learnt as a child has been playing on a loop in my mind. The title? ‘What a Friend we have in Jesus’. It is a hymn that has always brought me comfort and, today, of all days, its lyrics remind me of the ‘how’ Mankind has been able to take advantage of that encouragement, succour, and comfort that can only come from God. If the Lord Jesus Christ had died in vain and not risen from the grave – if He were not now watching over us with His Father in heaven – then Christians are fools indeed to believe and trust in the love and efficacy of that friend, Jesus.

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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 thy friends despise, forsake thee?
    Take it to the Lord in prayer!
    In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
    Thou wilt find a solace there.
  4. 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.

Christians believe in the triune God: God, the Father; God, the Son; and God, the Holy Spirit. The timeline that heralded Jesus’ arrival on Earth as the Babe in the manger during what the world knows as Christmas, followed a long history of God’s dealings with His chosen people, the Israelites. God wants our hearts and minds and souls: He wants a personal relationship with us. 

Good Friday and Easter are when more of those building blocks for this relationship were put in place. In order to reconcile us with a Holy God, the Lord Jesus Himself took on the burden of our sins (past, present, and future) upon Himself and sacrificed Himself on the cross as an atonement on our behalf. God is Holy – and the only way Man can be holy is for God Himself to take our sins away from us; quite literally, to put those sins to death on our behalf. That was Good Friday, when the Lord Jesus died on the cross to save Mankind. Then, having taken our sins upon His soul, and quite literally died a death of separation from His holy Father, Jesus, God’s own Son, rose again on Easter day to offer us the gift of His sacrifice – of dying to sin on our behalf and of offering us a new life with God as our own Father both here on Earth and in heaven when we depart this life.

‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’ was written by Joseph Scriven. In an excerpt about his life in www.stempublishing.com/hymns/biographies/scriven.html, the writer speaks about the motif of friendship in this hymn. It is Christ’s friendship with us that helps Christians to soldier on even when times are bad. That friendship provides solace, comfort, encouragement, and a deep abiding knowledge of the love that God has for us all. (It might feel like ‘head only’ knowledge at times, but God’s Spirit will also fill us with that ‘heart and soul’ certainty of Jesus’ love and friendship when we continue to trust in Him.

So, why have I decided to share this at Eastertime? It is because Easter is when the Lord God Himself opened the way and made it easier for all Mankind to receive and to enjoy this love relationship with Him. All anyone needs to do is to believe that Jesus died for all our sins, to repent of our shortcomings, to trust in the efficacy and sufficiency of His saving grace, and to follow and obey Him. Our lives become renewed because we have changed our lives to live for God that we might please Him. To that end, once we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, God sends His Holy Spirit to live in us. He is our Friend, and He will help us to live that new life.

Note: I am not trying to say that everything becomes easy as soon as we put our trust in the Lord. We are all human, and we all have our fair share of trials and misfortunes. But the Lord Jesus is here to help us: take it to the Lord in prayer!

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