Song of Brokenness

August 14, 2020 · by Andrea Long

A small ray of sunshine pierced the dismal winter sky and momentarily captured his attention. 

For a fleeting moment, he smiled and forgot about the letter in his hand. Then, with a heavy sigh, he focused his eyes once again on the news from his homeland. 

My mother is ill, he thought, and I’ve no means to get to her.

He sat back in his chair and mentally recalculated the cost of travel. The total was still far too great for his meager wages. 

“What now, Lord?” he whispered softly. As he often did, he closed his eyes and tuned his ear to prayer. His mind began to go back nearly 15 years ago to when he was still a young man in Ireland. 

He had just graduated from college, a luxury afforded to those with wealthy parents. His future was bright, and he was happy. His joy was magnified as he and his childhood sweetheart planned their wedding. 

In the midst of what should have been the happiest time of his life, tragedy struck. The day before the wedding, his fiancée drowned in a river before his eyes. 

He was devastated and left Ireland to escape the memories. For two years he wandered and finally came to Port Hope, Canada. 

It was here in Port Hope that he dedicated his life to serving others. He taught school to the local children and cut wood for the destitute, not asking for any payment in return. It was also in Port Hope that he fell in love again.

A tear escaped as he remembered the terrible pain when he realized this second love would not become his wife. The robber of his bride this time was pneumonia, and, again, he was filled with grief.

“And now this, Lord,” he said. “You have been a friend to me in the worst of times. But how can I even begin to comfort my dear mother from across an ocean?”

The words came softly at first, so soft he almost missed the message. Tears suddenly flooded his cheeks as the precious words filled his mind. “How true, dear Lord! This. This describes just what you are to me!” 

With a heart of gratitude, Joseph Scriven tugged a piece of paper towards him and began to pen these words:

What a friend we have in Jesus

All our sins and griefs to bear.

What a privilege 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.

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.

It would be over one hundred years before Scriven’s poem of encouragement would become one of the most popular hymns of the church. Scriven never intended to publish his words, and he never lived to see their impact. Instead, he allowed his brokenness to be used for God’s glory. 

I’m reminded of a verse in Psalm 34: “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart” (verse 18). Brokenness hurts, but when we allow God to break us, He becomes closer to us than ever before. In brokenness, we allow the Master Composer to write a masterpiece upon the music of our lives.

There is beauty in a song of brokenness.

Andrea Long

About Andrea Long

Andrea Long is editor and manager of The Dainty Jewell's Blog. She is also a Registered Nurse turned stay-at-home mom of 2 precious boys. Her life is full of adventure as she travels with her evangelist husband and little ones in a "tiny home on wheels". She enjoys finding ways to decorate her small space, time with her family, a good book, a strong cup of coffee, and as much time at her piano as possible. Andrea considers herself very blessed to live this life for her Faithful Friend. Follow Andrea on Instagram @andreagrindlelong.