Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

John 15:13-14

On Sunday we sang an old hymn at church, one I remember from long ago. In all the past thirty years of going to church I can’t remember singing What a Friend We Have in Jesus even once.

Singing it was refreshing – something old come to life again. It brought me back to seeing Jesus the way I had seen him in my childhood. Within my simple understanding it had conveyed trust and comfort, peace in the bosom of a loving friend. I saw Jesus as a friend who would always be there for me, no matter what.

Only a few weeks ago I had found a spirit of forgiveness – blessed peace in a situation that had long plagued me. I felt like I had found my old self again. Renewed. I was so very grateful!

Yet last week, despite all that, I had become angry at what had happened to my life, leaving me emotionally damaged with a problem most medical staff feel is hopeless. How I longed to be the person I used to be!

How can I possibly get back the life I lost? How can I return to the “sweet child” for Jesus I believe I once was, instead of the bitter one I am now?

Surely there must be a way back? Through Jesus? Through remembering who he is for me? I need to let go of the bitterness. But how?

And on Sunday I heard the hymn again, this time as an adult who has followed Jesus for thirty years – the words as new to me. I’m having a fresh look, the words having dimmed in my memory.

Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

 Lord, bring me back to the child I was when I first sang this hymn. Please bring back the sweetness. Remove the pain and anger and help me bring them to you.

Aretha Franklin sings a great rendition: