These words and this tune have been wedded together for generations of believers, bringing comfort and peace through reassurance that Jesus listens and the perspective that he can bear the burdens of our heart. This particular copy in the picture claims no ownership for the lyrics, but other sources tell us that they were written by Joseph Scriven. He wrote them as a private poem for his mother while she endured a time of great sorrow. These words were never intended to comfort anyone else, but words that are fitting to comfort a mother are surely deep enough to be a solace to the rest of us.
How many times have we looked to another source for comfort in distress? How many times have we overlooked Jesus, taking him for granted? Oh what peace we often forfeit and what needless pain we bear all because we’re too stubborn, or too forgetful, to carry it to Jesus in prayer.
Precious savior still our refuge – when has he ever stopped being our haven of safety? Sometimes it seems that we call out to the Lord just when we need him, as if we don’t need him all the time. You may be familiar with the popular Christian poem Footprints in the Sand (onlythebible.com/Poems/Footprints-in-the-Sand-Poem.html). I know what that poem intends to communicate, but I think the author misses the point when, at the climax of the poem, Jesus says that he carried the Christian in his times of greatest need. Friends, Jesus either always carries us or he doesn’t carry us at all! Romans 5 tells us that it is in the grace of God that we take our stand. There is no other place, nothing else solid, upon which to stand then the very grace of God.
This is a hymn which works equally well in the assembly of the saints is it does in private devotional time. Many times have I sung this to myself, to my inner self, reminding teaching, and reassuring my selfies timeless truths. In a town where I used to preach it was a gas station and convenience store called friends. They had a clever advertising line on the local radio station: “Who doesn’t need more Friends?” Well when Jesus is your friend you have what you need; when you don’t have Jesus, you lack the one relationship that will not only save you IN the future FROM your past but which will also save you IN your present from the pain, sorrow, faithlessness, poverty, and hardship that life sends our way.
Christian Hymns, 1889
E.G. Sewell, R.M. McIntosh, Leonard Daugherty
Gospel Advocate Publishing Company