No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends. – John 15:15
Joseph Scriven was a man who experienced more misery in his young life than many people experience in a lifetime. He was engaged twice, but never married. His first fiancé tragically drowned the night before their wedding, leaving him heartbroken with grief. Years later, he was engaged again. This time, his bride-to-be died from pneumonia a few weeks before their wedding day. As you can imagine, these deaths were a devastating blow to this young preacher.
A few years after the death of his second fiancé, Joseph wrote a poem for his mother who was far away from him in Ireland suffering from sickness. He couldn’t be at her bedside, but the words he wrote must have ministered to his own injured heart and lifted his mother’s heavy spirit as well. He never meant for his words to be published, but I’m thankful that they were because these same words have helped me when I’ve faced struggles and heartache in my own life. I imagine the lines he wrote to his mother are familiar to you too.
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.
What a beautiful thought! Are we able to recognize that it is a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer, or are we so depressed and lost in grief that we can’t even bring ourselves to kneel before the Lord? I went through a period of deep sadness in college, and instead of giving everything to God in prayer, I tried to keep myself distracted with anything I could find to keep my mind off of the pain. Even though he had every right to, Joseph Scriven wasn’t trying to escape the struggles and pain that God allowed in his life. In fact, the last two lines of the verse suggest exactly the opposite. He did not run from his pain and grief. He ran to God and abandoned his sorrow in prayer!
Do we abandon our sorrows in prayer? The process is so simple, but we often make it into something difficult. Simply begin telling God about the pain that you’re going through. Openly tell Him the hurts you are suffering. Allow Him to speak back to you through words of Scripture, songs of encouragement, the words of a godly friend, or the simple understanding in your spirit that all will be well because He is in control of your life. He IS in control. Take your requests and broken hearts to Him in prayer.
Read the next two verses of this hymn slowly. Take in the meaning that may be lost to you because of the familiarity of it.
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.
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 will find a solace there.
I know the words are familiar, but aren’t they comforting? Tell Him everything that’s going on in your life. Pour out your sorrows and fears at His feet. Allow Him to take you and protect you in His arms. Let Him to be your relief, your source of comfort. I don’t know what you’re going through today, but if you have encountered problems, as we all have, I am sure you can relate to the pain Joseph Scriven must have felt as he wrote down these words that we continue to sing more than one hundred years later.
You are not alone; others are walking similar paths all around you. Most importantly, more than two thousand years ago, Jesus walked the road of the most sorrow and pain anyone could ever suffer. As Isaiah 53 reminds us, He carried our sorrows, and is acquainted with grief. He knows. He understands. He cares. What an understanding, comforting and compassionate friend we have in Jesus!
In researching this story, I found a verse that’s not included in our hymn book that was included in the letter to Joseph Scriven’s mother:
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.
My encouragement for you is a simple thought today. I hope the thought of rapture, praise and endless worship fills your heart with anticipation and ignites a longing in you to come before God and empty your heart of anything heavy in your life that you’ve been carrying around. Know without a doubt that when you go through the storms of this life, you will find your comfort in Jesus Christ. It’s your privilege as a child of God to allow Him to bring you healing and hope in the midst of your sorrow and suffering.
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.