March 20—What a Friend We Have in Jesus

What a friend we have in Jesus,

all our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry

everything to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we bear,

all because we do not carry

everything to God in prayer! (“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” by Joseph Scriven)

Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. (Matthew 8:1–3 NLT)

In his book Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life, Henri Nouwen ruminates on friendship: “When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand.” There were any number of ways that Jesus could have cured this man who suffered leprosy. Among the various methods recorded in scripture include spitting, sending the sick to be examined by a priest, rebuking a fever, and healing from many kilometers distant. Jesus did not need to touch this man before healing him. Jesus could have just as easily healed him and then touched him. But Jesus is compassionate and empathetic. He chose to first touch the man with leprosy as a friend, rather than simply treat him as a doctor working with a patient.

Jesus is a true friend. He will never abandon us. He celebrates with us, pushes us to be our best, and corrects us when we are wrong. He walks with us through all our pain, frustration, grief, anger, and sadness. Jesus does nothing begrudgingly or out of obligation, but instead acts out of love for us. In fact, we suffer when we fail to come to Him with our every need or even simply to be in His presence. Emulate Jesus by being the kind of friend He would be toward those in your life. Pray for their needs, share in their pain, and spend time together as friends.