Rev. J. Leroy Wimbush
Fresh Harvest Christian Church (D.O.C.)
As a youngster, one of the songs that was sung on Sunday morning at church was “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” I can hear the voice of my Aunt Hattie Pilson clearing her throat to sing each of the stanzas followed by the other saints chiming in. As was the case of most youth in church, I didn’t have an understanding of the meaning of the words or have the connection they seemed to have. On occasion, my thought would be “Why are they singing this song again?” As I have gotten older and grown in the Word of God, experienced “life” and come to know the Savior, Jesus, I now understand why there was so much fervor in their voices and why they lifted their hands to God as they sung, What a friend we have in Jesus. All our sins and grieves to bear. What a privilege it is 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.
According to the Online Dictionary, a friend is “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.” We call one another “friend” during different times in our lives. We find ourselves hanging out, sharing secrets, keeping secrets, telling lies for each other and saying nothing when our parents would call and ask of our whereabouts. We say, “we are ride or die.” Then, one day we grow apart, go our separate ways and live the rest of our lives someplace else, with new friends or possibly, we are betrayed or become the betrayer.
In 1 Corinthians 10:13 (New Living translation) you will find these words, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” God is a constant friend. Both Abraham and Moses were friends of God. You recall what happened in those relationships? Being a friend of God is the highest relationship between Him and a person.
Psalms 103:14 (NLT), “For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.” Have you ever been disappointed in a friend or a friend tell you of their disappointment in you? We get disappointed because of the expectation we place on one another. We expect each other to be how we perceive each other to be or how we want each other to be. When we do not measure up to that expectation, we become disappointed and let down. Isn’t it good to know that Jesus knows our weakness, our faults? 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.
Look at the words of Jesus found in St. John 15:9-17NLT. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit , so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.” Jesus chooses his friends. We are chosen when we obey Him. Obey Him; love each other; be chosen as his friend.
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. I now know why the saints sung this song so much. It was a testament of their life, their struggles, and their disappointments. It was a praise to the One who was constant in their life; the One that would walk with them, watch over them and be there when they called, even if they hadn’t called in a very long time. That sung was comforting when earthly friends walked away from them or just weren’t there anymore. It was their worship to the Savior that had never left them, never forsaken them, never judged them, never lied to or about them, never stole from them, never betrayed them, never laughed at them, never ….. Indeed, what a friend we have in Jesus!
Grace and peace be unto you.