20 10 2020
Microphone - Wikipedia


I have always been drawn to the stories behind the songs. I am fascinated by the paths that it took to get much of our favorite music to the public forum. Let’s just say that passion is born out of pain. God has taken our trash and turned it into true treasure. So many beautiful melodies were produced from being originally being battered. Creation proves that not all done in the dark has to remain there. When I felt like my heart was shattered into pieces, God gave me a song! How many of us are not merely surviving but actually surviving because we have learned how to sing when we felt like sinking into oblivion. 

Let me tell you how one such horror story became a hymn of great inspiration. It happened to a man named Joseph Scriven. Just a tad before my time, in 1842, this Irishman graduated from Trinity College in Dublin and like so many other young men before him, he fell head over heels in love with a girl from his neighborhood.

They got engaged, planned their wedding and began dreaming about the future that they would experience together as husband and wife. But tragedy invaded their tomorrows! On the night before their wedding, Joseph’s fiancée saddled a horse to go and see him. It would turn out to be one of the last things she would ever do.

Joseph saw his wife-to-be riding toward him, and he couldn’t wait to kiss her! But suddenly, just as she was crossing the bridge over the river, her horse bucked and threw her like a rag-doll down into the river below. Joseph ran with everything he had, jumping wildly into the river, calling out her name. He soared deep into its icy waters, but his efforts would not help. By the time he got to her, the woman he loved was already dead. He thought that he would be going to a wedding but ended up present at a funeral.

If that wasn’t enough to steal the breath from his faith, Joseph moved to Canada. While he was there, he fell in love yet again. In 1854, Joseph and Eliza Roche planned to become husband and wife. The wedding had to continually be put off because Eliza was ill and even with all the hope and prayers said on her behalf, she never got better! She actually became worse and eventually Eliza died too.

Joseph Scriven never did get married. Joseph’s mother was deeply concerned for her heartbroken son but the faith that he had was established and unsinkable. It wasn’t his Mother that lifted up her son. It was the absolute opposite. Joseph composed a poem to strengthen her, little knowing that it would become one of the best-loved songs of all time. Several years later, a friend found it in a drawer at Joseph’s house and was deeply moved. “The Lord and I wrote it together,” Joseph explained. That poem, forged out of so much disappointment and pain, continues to cause Believers to look up when they probably feel like giving up! The words go like this:

“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!”

As I am writing this, I want to pray for all of us. I believe this is no time for us to continue to be held hostage by the fear of what might be. God has showed up to equip us for what is. When Scripture uses the word comfort, it doesn’t mean what we think it does in English. It is not so much about how a Mother holds a crying Baby to her chest, as it is God preparing us properly for the ride of our lives. When Christians are begging for a pillow and blanket, perhaps we should be looking for a crash helmet and a new pair of Nikes.

The problem with America’s church today is we waste too much time thinking God is going to fix all that is unpleasant when we should be gearing up for our next adventure. The Lord wants to work in us more than He wants to change the stuff around us. Jesus is looking to get us ready for the challenges that are still to come. We can’t settle for anything less than following our Savior the entire way that He leads, even if it means a bumpy ride.

Are we pretending that the kiddie rides are the safe option when we might need to fasten our seatbelts for the roller coaster with the twists and turns that make our stomach queasy? Can we escape so great a calling by playing it safe when we know that to live means to risk great pain and heartaches? If we don’t need Jesus, we won’t trust Him. If we are fooling ourselves by thinking that the little boat ride with the string that makes the bell ring that we sit in which does nothing more than go in a safe circle is the journey Jesus has invited us too- we will be sadly mistaken and spiritually off track! Getting our heart crushed is nobody’s idea of a picnic, but the reality is that without our willingness to surrender our way to God’s will, we might never learn to sing the sweet song of salvation.

If our walk contradicts our words, we lose our testimony. Our “walk” and our “talk” must agree!

A yielded heart is necessary for this Sinner to be made into a Saint. Too many Christians today emphasize guarding the truth, but they sadly downplay living the truth. One of the best ways to guard the truth is to live what we say we believe! It is good to be defenders of the faith, but we must not forget to be demonstrators of the faith. Joseph was able to articulate his union with Jesus because it stood the test of how living on this planet can wreak havoc in your heart. Stop just singing praise tunes. We followers of Jesus should be writing new verses to expound upon how being connected to God does not just fix life. It is life!  



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