What a Friend we’ve found

So I’m sitting in a Muskoka Chair at the top of a hill overlooking Ahmic Lake, and how do you beat that?  This view… it never gets old.

This picture wasn’t taken today.  It’s a bit drearier today, and there’s a boat whipping tubers around in the lake, but you get the idea.  I’m just too lazy to go get my camera.  I’m having one of those days.

One of those days where it’s hard to stop and take notice of fantastic things.

One of those days where everything annoys me.  It’s my day off and I should be able to just forget about responsibilities and relax, but I’m finding it really difficult today.

On that note, while I sit looking at the completely parched ground, the really low lake, and the clouds that appear to hold rain but don’t want to give it up…. I think I’ll meditate on a song we sang in Chapel this morning.  It’ll give me a chance to have some fun with my new Bibles, too 😉

This morning we sang “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” . . . a classic.  One I’ve sung probably hundreds of times in the span of years I spent growing up in the church.  So many times, in fact, that I don’t know that I’ve ever stopped to think about what the words really mean.  Those words hit me this morning.  They actually took on meaning.

Here are the lyrics…  Underneath each verse I’ve added my own “thoughts”, I guess, my interpretation.  My paraphrase, if you will.

  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!

What an awesome friend Jesus is.  He takes on all our sin and grief.  How excellent is it that we’re able to take everything to God in prayer, no matter what.  We often give up so much peace and suffer for nothing because we don’t bother to take everything to God in prayer.

  1. 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.

Do we have troubles?  Are we tempted?  Do we go through crappy stuff?  Who cares?  We shouldn’t be discouraged, we should take it to the Lord in prayer.  Is there a friend anywhere who sticks by us that closely anywhere who will listen to all our sorrows and pain?  Jesus knows everything that’s wrong with us, all of our weaknesses.  Take it to the Lord in prayer.

  1. 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.

Are we weak and burdened, buried under a load of stress and concern that we can’t handle?  Our Saviour is just that — our Saviour.  Take it to the Lord in prayer.  Do your friends hate you?  Abandon you?  Take it to the Lord in prayer.

  1. 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.

Blessed Saviour You have promised that you will take on everything we’re bothered by.  Let us always bring everything to You in heartfelt prayer.  Soon we’ll see You in Heaven and it’ll be bright and glorious.  We won’t need to pray there because we’ll have been taken in by our Father and all we’ll do is praise and worship for eternity, and THAT will be our comfort then.

So I did some digging.

I wanted to know where this song came from, if there were verses that inspired it.  I was sure there were, I just didn’t know where.  I grabbed my NIV Worship Bible.  It’s got a listing of songs in the back as an index where you can look up the song and it tells you the page where to find reference to it…. you know, cuz that’s what indexes do.  I looked it up as it’s a pretty old song and I expected it to be there.  And it was!  I found it in James 1!

James 1:2-8 (NIV)

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

James asks us to find joy in our trials because it strengthens us and makes us persevere, and the Lord will honour those who persevere.  Obviously this doesn’t cover the entire song, but it’s the general idea of it.

As I mentioned in another post, my Bible has these “My Beloved” love letters from God, compiled from various verses.  Here is the one found alongside this passage.

Life is not without difficult seasons.  But consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because the testing of your faith develops perseverance; perseverance produces character; and character produces hope.  In order for you to become mature and complete in Me, perseverance must finish its work in you.

Though now for a little while you have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials, remember that trials come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Just think of My prophets of old who spoke in My name only to face suffering.  In the end they were blessed because they persevered.  You too will be blessed when you persevere under trials, because when you have stood the test, you will receive the crown of life that I have promised to those who love Me.

You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what I finally brought about for him.  I made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.  I blessed the latter part of his life more than the first.

So take heart and do not throw away your confidence in Me.  You need to persevere so that when you have done My will, you will receive all that I have promised.  Hold on tight!

Taken from Job 42:10, 12; Romans 5:3-4; Heb. 10:35-36; James 1:2-4, 12; 5:10-11; 1 Peter 1:6-7

Exodus 33:11 says:  “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.  Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.”  (NIV)  Wow.  Face to face as to a friend.  I know I’ve never been that close to God.  Can I be so bold as to say I want that?

John 15:13-15 says:  “This is the very best way to love.  Put your life on the line for your friends.  You are my friends when you do the things I command you.  I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning.  No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.” (The Message)

So there you have it, words that were written by Joseph M. Scriven in 1855 have hit me in a new way in 2012.  Must be a powerful message…

73. Sleeping all night long, uninterrupted, for the first time in days.
74.  Scripture role-played to truly help us see its meaning.
75.  Discernment that comes from talking to wise people willing to sit and chat and speak into my life.
76.  Rain on the Chapel roof.
77.  The inability to laugh that comes with laughing uncontrollably.
78.  Days off meant for relaxing and refreshing renewal with God.
All photos taken by me.

4 thoughts on “What a Friend we’ve found

  1. When we face trials, it gives us a chance to practise taking our problems to the Lord in prayer. Don’t know what to do in a situation? Ask God. He’ll give you all the wisdom you need (and some extra!). Know and believe and trust that when you’ve gone to God, you will be given what it takes to sort things out. That’s what it says in James 1.
    Thanks again Laura for your blogs!

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