Hymnlines: “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” Part 2

Lion Roaring

Lion Roaring (Photo credit: lukiffer)

Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.  1 Peter 5:8-11, The Message

It’s easier to share someone else’s story than my own. If you read the background story to the hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” in Part 1, you know the words were written from a painful heart. This is one of my favorite hymns which intertwines with a story about God’s grace, mercy and protection when I needed it most.

Friend or foe? Is it not true that a roaring lion roams the cobbled streets and dusty paths of planet earth seeking to devour human flesh? He’s a man-eater alright . . . woman and child too. Not a nice picture for sure, but sadly, it’s true. Even if one harbor’s the belief that the Bible is irrelevant in today’s society, it does not change the fact that we have a devil roaring about in rage. He’s not dressed in red leos and carrying a pitchfork either. That idea lingers on from Greek mythology. The real satan blends in well. You could be looking into demonic faces on the busy streets where you live, in the work place, or from a pew in church. He is well represented everywhere on our planet; a planet in chaos or has that reality escaped you? Certainly not.

Some time ago, I was invited to speak on the topic of suicide at a Christian women’s retreat. I prayed about it and felt God nudging me into unfamiliar territory; to share my story which I had never shared publicly before. Naturally I was hesitant, terrified actually, but I had promised God that I would do whatever He asked me to do ~ to help bring glory to His name by reaching out, as it were, with His hands, feet, and heart to comfort those in grief  ~ to give hope where hope seems impossible ~ and to keep alive the memory of my precious son who is forever in my heart.

All went smoothly until the night before I was scheduled to speak. It was after midnight and I was in deep slumber when suddenly I was awakened. Paralysis was creeping upwards from my feet! Within seconds I was completely frozen. I could not move. I could not speak. Frantically I sent a desperate plea for help to God in my mind. Somehow my roommate, who apparently was a light sleeper, realized I was in need and started to pray aloud. Then, she began to sing,

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.

By the time she started to sing the second verse, the numbness had receded from my head down past my throat and I was able to join her,

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.

I was puzzled. Why would God allow the enemy to frighten me like this when I thought I was on His mission? I paced the floor until my racing heart had calmed down a bit, then I crawled back under the covers and began to pray. I asked God, “Why did you let the enemy attack me? Was this trip not Your idea?” No response came other than, “You must speak about this in the morning.” “But that is not possible,” I argued. (I guess I assumed I knew more about this retreat than God did). Again the same response came to my mind, “You must tell about this in the morning.” Clearly no sleep would be coming until I gave in. “Okay,” I sighed. “I will sit on the front row, but You will have to take it from there. You’re going to have to give me the words to say.” And He did.

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.

Long story short, what came to my heart to share the next morning was this: We are doing something right if it makes the devil worried enough to attack; to show up and attempt to frighten a speaker into silence. We needn’t fear the enemy for we are surrounded by holy warring angels sent for our protection when we are doing God’s will. Many women in attendance were suffering personal sorrow. Some had lost children recently and to suicide. Some were there because family and friends had condemned the suicide death and they ached for assurance and hope.

God spoke His words of comfort and I left feeling blessed and reminded that even though the enemy plotted evil against me, God turned it into something good (Genesis 50:19, 20).

Though we contend with the enemy of our souls on earth, God still rules the Universe and He will have the last word!

And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.  Romans 16:20

Let’s listen in on Jesus’ conversation with his disciples: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

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