In 1819, a man was born into a rich family in Ireland. When he was 25 years of age, he migrated to Canada. Why did he leave his home? First, because he became a Christian and was rejected by his family. Second, because of tragedy in his life. He was engaged and the night before their wedding, his fiancée drowned. He moved to Canada and became a school teacher. He fell in love again, but this woman also died before they could get married.
How would Joseph Scriven respond to these events in his life? He responded in two ways: 1) he dedicated himself to working and helping the poor and needy and 2) he wrote a hymn (which was first written as a poem to comfort his mother who was living in Ireland):
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 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.
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 your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.
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.
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
For more on the story of Scriven, see http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Music/hymns-the-songs-and-the-stories/what-a-friend-we-have-in-jesus-the-song-and-the-story.html