Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Turning Loss Into Loveliness

One of the most-loved and comforting hymns ever written was penned by a man who had plenty of personal experience with loss and grief.

In 1819, Joseph Scriven was born in County Down, Ireland, and as a young man wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and become a Royal Marine, but his relatively poor health prevented him from following that dream.

When he fell in love and was engaged, his fiancee drowned before the wedding could take place. Perhaps to distance himself from that tragedy and get a new start on life, Mr. Scriven moved to Canada...where he once again became engaged to be married and once again lost his love to death.


Rather than stow himself away in loneliness and grief, he seems to have devoted his life to serving others. He was especially known for carrying a saw with him and cutting firewood for anyone in need.

When he got word that his mother was gravely ill, he could not afford a trip back to Ireland, so he wrote his mother a poem and sent it to her in hopes of comforting and encouraging her. It is that poem that was later published in a religious journal, set to music by Charles C. Converse, and became the song we know as "What a Friend We Have in Jesus".


What a friend we have in Jesus, 
All our sins and griefs to bear:
What a privilege to carry
Ev’ry thing to God in prayer.
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear–
All because we do not carry
Ev’ry thing 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 ev’ry weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.



Are we weak and heavy laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, 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.


Truth is...Creatively turning pain into an artistic expression is nothing new; neither is turning worry and grief into prayer. It wouldn't hurt me (and perhaps you, too?) to do more of both.

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