What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Text: Joseph Scriven (1820-1866)
Tune: CONVERSE Charles D. Converse, 1866
From Lift Up Your Hearts, 2013

My grandma Leone has always been a role model and a hero in my life. Gentle, quiet, funny, steady, independent – even a bit stubborn – she faithfully loved and served God and her family throughout her entire life. Last Tuesday I called Grandma Leone to say goodbye for the last time. A few hours later she was with the Lord. My cousin and I have the honor of leading the hymns the congregation will sing at the funeral on Saturday.

Grandma planned her funeral before she died, leaving a list of hymns she wanted those in attendance to sing. What a Friend We Have in Jesus was on the list. I found out this week that it was also sung at my grandpa’s funeral 33 years ago. His death was a sudden, tragic one. Grandma Leone’s passing was an expected, gradual decline. But I know they both knew Jesus as their friend and took refuge in their Precious Savior until their final days on earth. 
I also know for certain that Gram lived by the words repeated in this hymn – “take it to the Lord in prayer.” She was a devoted prayer warrior. I remember one afternoon when my dad was in the hospital having a heart procedure, I stepped out of the room to call her with an update. I was surprised when she answered the phone before it even rang. She was sitting at home, with phone in hand, in intercessory prayer during the entire procedure. I will probably never know the extent to which her prayers for my cousins and I impacted the lives we lead today.

Before my grandma passed, I had decided that my next song would be upbeat, happy, fun… But then last Tuesday Grandma Leone died. And on Wednesday Jesse’s grandma June passed away. Both women were in their 90s, so while we were not surprised, the hymn I had planned didn’t seem appropriate. Instead, I decided that there’s no reason funeral music has to be depressing. For my tribute to Grandma Leone, I busted out the ukulele that Jesse bought me for Christmas. I only know 3 chords and luckily, this hymn only has three! As we head into a weekend of celebrating Grandma’s life, I am remembering that Jesus has borne all of our sins and griefs and we have the great privilege to carry everything that burdens us to Him.