In the mid-1800’s, a young Irishman named Joseph Scriven was engaged to be married to a young lady. On the day before the wedding, he rode out to meet his fiancé at a river. Upon arriving, he was devastated to learn that her horse had been startled and thrown her into the water, where she drowned. He said later, “The bottom of my world seemed to disappear.” He turned to God and leaned upon him for strength.
He moved to Port Hope, Ontario, Canada. In his sorrow, he chose to remain alone and tutor children. He devoted his life to doing good deeds for other people. In fact, he became known as the Good Samaritan of Port Hope. A few years later, however, he again found love and was engaged to be married. Within weeks of the wedding, his new love, Eliza, contracted pneumonia and died.
A few months later, in sending a message to his mother, who was ill at the time, Joseph wrote a poem in which he poured out his heart about the need to lean upon God in times of trouble. He gave it the title, Pray Without Ceasing. The poem was at first published anonymously and only later did he admit that it was he who had written it. He too died several years later.
His words, however, have lived on and have been sung and loved for years. They are found in most songbooks of today. Many who have sung them need little prompting to melodiously declare, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!” (Sources: YouTube, The story behind the hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus;” Wikipedia, “Joseph Scriven.”
Immediately following the words, “Greater Love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends,” Jesus also said “You are my friends if you do what I command you (John 15:13, 14 ESV). Each Christian has the privilege of being a friend of Jesus.
Though we may not have walked with Him while He was on earth, we can walk with Him today. We can take confidence in knowing that He has also said, “And, behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20) Let us trust the Lord throughout our lives and let us lean upon his promise— “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
– Lance Cordle