Chosen Servant and Friend

Joseph Scriven wrote a poem to his mother in 1855 which arguably became one of the ten most-loved hymns in the world, What a Friend We Have in Jesus.  Born in 1819 in Ireland, he attended Trinity College in London where he was trained as a teacher.  On the night before his wedding his beloved fiancé drowned, and overwhelmed with grief he packed up all his possessions and moved to Ontario, Canada, where he took up teaching and tutoring.  He was 25.  

In 1855 his mother became very ill and he was unable to return, so he wrote a three stanza poem which we know as What a Friend We Have in Jesus.  I suspect he knew something about that very subject.  

Circa 1857 Scriven fell in love with Eliza Catherine Roche.  But before they could marry, she became very ill and died!  As a result, instead of turning away from the Lord in anger or despair he used his suffering to minister to those who suffer.  He devoted himself to cutting wood for stoves of widows, orphans, the handicapped and the financially destitute.  He was known for his own poverty and sacrificial giving.  It seems that even through heart-wrenching he had found a friend in Jesus who brought stability and purpose to his life.    

His last years were plagued by ill health, skimpy finances and depression.  In August, 1896, his body was found in a lake (or a stream, it is unclear) where he had drowned.  

The Lord is doing something new among us and it seems it is a good time to remember that He is with us as Friend and we need not be afraid or anxious.  This week we will look at a familiar promise found in Isaiah 41:8-10.  Read that precious promise and use the questions below to help you meditate on it.  

1.    Do you have any fears about the merger Bear Creek Church is approaching?  Are you anxious about it in anyway?  

2.    In verses 1-7 the Lord addresses “the coastlands,” nations of the known world in Isaiah’s day, and He speaks of one whom He has stirred up and who is a conqueror.   He will later be identified as Cyrus.  How does Isaiah describe the nations’ response to the threat of Cyrus in verses 1-7?

3.    Israel, the people of God, are called to something else.  How would you summarize the message of verses 8-10?

4.    Let’s unpack these verses a little more.  What are the honors or privileges bestowed on Israel as described in verses 8-9?

5.    What was God’s intent in making Israel His servant?  What were they to be? What were they to do?  (Gen. 12:1-3; Ex. 19:5-6; Deut. 4:5-8; 7:6ff.)

6.    As a result of what the Lord has done for them and in light of their place in the world as His Servant, the Lord gave them two commands with a reason attached to each.  What are they?  

7.    What three things does God promise to do for His people in verse 10?  •    How does God do this in our lives?  Have you experienced His strength, help and sustaining power?  If so, how so?

8.    What do you think it is important for us to realize that God will sustain us with His righteous right hand?  

9.    We live in a very anxious world.  How are we as God’s people to be different?

10.    Looking at the very real possibility of a merger for BCC, how might this passage help you address any fears or anxieties?  

God be with you!  And I hope to see you on Sunday!