What A Friend We Have In Jesus

This sermon was preached a few years ago by my uncle, Minister David Boyd. I pray that it will bless you, the reader and draw you closer to Jesus Christ.

John 15:13
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Proverbs 18:24
A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

What a friend we have in Jesus all our sins and grieves to bear
What a privilege it is to carry everything to God in prayer

Oh what peace we often forfeit of what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer

Today, I want to talk about the story behind this song. This song that many of us sing so often, This song that has been with us down through the years.

“What A Friend We Have In Jesus” is one of the most popular hymns ever sung. It is a song that describes, in some of the most clear and heartfelt words, the meaning of a right relationship with God.
From some of our earliest childhood memories, many of us can remember the words of this hymn being sung by our mothers, our fathers, our grandparents, preachers, deacons, and various others.

This song has been a source of encouragement for troubled souls; And the soothing of hearts down through the years. This song is filled with so many Biblical truths and scriptural references about a relationship between God and man. It speaks of love, It speaks of redemption, It speaks of experiencing trials, It speaks of faith, It speaks of enduring sorrows, It speaks of comfort, It speaks of cares, and It speaks of the sustaining power of God.

To me, it will always be a song for the ages. Never failing with its inspiration to move the hearts of men and women to look to Jesus. To appreciate this hymn for the value it holds, one must equate themselves with the story and message behind the song. This song was born in the heart of a man, who experienced great trials and heartaches, but through his trials and disappointments he began to develop a deeper relationship with God, who would become the best friend this man would ever know.

This song was inspired by a letter, written by an Irishmen, named Joseph M. Scriven, in the mid 1800’s. After receiving his university degree from Trinity College in London, he quickly established himself as a teacher, fell in love, and made plans to settle in his hometown. Then tragedy struck. The day before his scheduled wedding, his fiancé drowned.

Scriven’s heart and dreams were shattered. How many of us have ever had our hopes and dreams shattered by life’s unexpected events? When it looked like everything was going right in your life, and all of the sudden, what you hoped for, what you dreamed of…was gone. When you suffered something that was the biggest blow in your life?

Scriven felt like the bottom of his world had fell out. Struck with this horrific tragedy, the only place of comfort Joseph could look to was Jesus.

Overcome with grief, Scriven prayed and decided to leave Ireland to start a new life in Canada. He established a home in Rice Lake, where he met and fell in love with Eliza Rice. Sadly tragedy struck again, and just weeks before she was to become Joseph Scriven’s bride, she suddenly grew sick. In a matter of weeks, Eliza died.

A shattered Scriven turned to the only thing that had anchored him during his life — his faith and trust in his true friend, Jesus.

Joseph didn’t throw in the towel. He didn’t give up on life. He didn’t think about taking his own life. He turned to Jesus…the only One who could help him. God had done it one time, and all Scriven could do was trust God to bring him through once again.

Through prayer and Bible study he found not just solace, but a mission. The twenty-five year old Scriven took a vow of poverty, sold all of his earthly possessions, and vowed to give his life to the physically handicapped and financially destitute.

Ten years later Scriven received word that his mother had become very ill. The man who had taken a vow of poverty did not have the funds to go home to help care for her. Heartsick, and feeling a need to reach out to her, Scriven penned a letter of comfort to his mother.

As Joseph began to write his letter, he began to reflect over his life. He thought about the hardships and disappointments, and how God had brought him through each one. It was through this time of writing that God gave Joseph Scriven the verses of a poem, that would later become the hymn of “What a Friend We Have In Jesus.”

This song, born out of great sorrows and trials, has become a song that many of us can relate to. For it is there, in the midst of pains and heartaches, that we tend to find the God who is seeking us. Sometimes, through your trials and disappointments, that’s the time that God is most nearest to you. And that’s the time we tend to reach out more to Him. Sometimes God has to strip things away, in order for us to get closer to Him. We don’t look for it, We don’t ask for it, but God has got a plan for every one of our lives. His desire is that we draw closer to Him; And He will use circumstances, heartaches, disappointments, trials, and tribulations to get us to reach out and get closer to Him. Don’t despise your trial. Go through it, in the name of Jesus! Endure the hardness, because look at what came out of this story…this precious jewel of a song.

This song that so many of us sing today, we didn’t know the story behind it. This song was born out of tragedy and sorrow, but sometimes things that come through something turn out to be beautiful. It is during these times, where we have no where else to turn, that we finally realize that we need to turn to Jesus; And realize that He is the only true friend for us. He will be there when nobody else is there. He’ll be there when everybody else walks away. He’ll be there when you feel all alone.

What a friend we have in Jesus all our sins and grieves to bear What a privilege it is to carry everything to God in prayer…And that’s what young Joseph had to do. He had to carry his pain, his grief, his sorrow to God.

Let’s think about what this song really means:

What a friend we have in Jesus.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

All our sins and grieves to bear
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

What a privilege it is to carry everything to God in prayer:
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Oh what peace we often forfeit of what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer:
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Sometimes we struggle with stuff that we shouldn’t be struggling with. Sometimes we become anxious, when we need to just rest in the Lord.

This song describes for us, the extraordinary friendship between a man and his God. A relationship that gave him purpose and hope, in a time of heartache and sorrow. Joseph Scriven saw his friend not as an impersonal force, that could not be approached, but he saw Jesus as a loving Father whose greatest desire was to carry our burdens and ease our pain.

So today, my prayer is this: That when you see God, that you will not see Him as someone that you cannot approach. But that you will look at His Son, the Savior, as a friend, As Someone who wants to carry your burdens and ease your pain. Will you give Jesus a chance today?

You can accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by Praying the Prayer below:

I confess that I have sinned against You, and I know that there is nothing I can do by my own efforts to change my condition. I believe that Jesus Christ shed His blood and died on the cross for my sins; And that He rose from the grave on the Third Day to grant me eternal life. I know You love me, God, and I love You. I place my faith and trust only in You to conform my heart to Your will; And to order my steps everyday, from this day forward. Thank You , Lord, for saving me.

When we accept salvation, God saves us immediately, and makes us fit for entrance into Heaven, however some changes God will empower you to make easily, while making other changes will be a process that may take months or even years to make. Regardless of your situation, I assure you that the Lord loves you more than you could ever comprehend, and He will be with you every step of the way. Pray, study God’s Word and ask Him to give you revelation of what you are reading.

I also pray that the Lord will direct you to a true Bible teaching, Jesus loving church, where you can have the support of other believers.

16 thoughts on “What A Friend We Have In Jesus

  1. My wife loved Jesus and this hymn was her favourite. Why did God kill her last year. I loved my darling, sweetheart deeply. She was my one and only, so kind hearted, loving, tender, and true.

    Why O why did God, if he exists, kill her. Why would he kill someone who loved him so. Why did he put her through so much pain and suffering. How can I believe such a merciless God exists.


    1. Hi, John, I am sorry to hear of the passing of your wife. I’m sure you loved her dearly. I’ve lost several loved ones over the past year also, as a result of the Pandemic. I really miss interacting with them, but fortunately I know that their faith was in Jesus Christ, and that I will see them again.

      You said your wife loved Jesus, so if she loved Him enough to ask Him to be her Lord and Savior, then she is with Him right now; And her suffering is over. She will never have to worry about pain again or shed any tears of sorrow.

      John, I assure you that God DOES EXIST, AND THE GREAT NEWS IS THAT HE LOVES YOU. If you truly believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ; And choose to love Him with all your heart, mind, and strength He will come into your heart and help you through this grieving process, and you will have the assurance that you and your wife will meet again in heaven someday.


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