Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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Faith not bound by circumstances or time

Music is played not only to soothe the ears, but has the soulful anecdote that can induce emotional boost in highs and in lows…..It has the genre to suit every occasion and whatever be the circumstances, there is a music just to go with the mood. For a baby crying for want of sleep nothing but a mothers’ lullaby soothes better. And what better way to express feelings than through music, a message that can be understood by all across all age groups.
Relating to music/song, my thought is drawn to the life of Joseph Medlicott Scriven, an Irish poet who gave the classic gospel hymn well-regarded and covered by many artists throughout the world. His was also a testimony of lives struggles and of unflinching faith.
Tragedy comes unannounced and to anyone, irrespective; rich or poor, young or aged, faithful or without one! Problems though aren’t God’s way of expressing His displeasure, but a way of making us realize that, in the end of it all, we are but human and the need we have for Him. Sufferings, in whatever form, offers us with an opportunity to contemplate about our lives filled in hitch and glitch, ifs and buts’ and, hence a turning point…. In times of trials and tribulations, our own or that of others, God’s message to us is that of patience and of unyeilding faith.
Why music and what about tragedy? Well, there is no way to weigh tragedy, which more gruesome and which milder. Every bit of those moments are felt by every individual differently and with varying degree of intensity. What is common is that of grief. In empathy, my thought flashes back over the sad encounter meted out by Joseph Scriven and what he may have been through!… My vice principal of a certain school I was studying in, once, shared about the woeful experience of Joseph Scriven.
With a soulful song and a faint knowledge at the backdrop, I skimmed on the net for more…He, Joseph Scriven, was born in Ireland on 10 Sep 1819 in a prosperous and God fearing family. He had a comfortable and faithful upbringing to begin with, however, the near perfect world that he was living in was brought to an abrupt end with tragic events that unfolded with time. Not once, but twice did he endure heartbreaking turn of events with both his fiancée dying; one died of drowning in 1843, the night before they were to be married while the second in 1860, of pneumonia. Twice he was bereft of an opportunity to pen down a befitting ending about his love life.
Joseph Scriven, despite the odds, was to bring out his masterpiece just yet and in 1855 wrote a poem “Pray Without Ceasing” to comfort his mother who had fallen terribly ill. The poem later set to music and renamed by Charles Crozat Converse, becoming the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”; A soulful song that is a reminder of the trials which will be there and in whom we can confide in. It is said that amid the tragedy he underwent, he was ever faithful tutoring, preaching and helping others until he died in a tragic circumstance at age 66, by drowning.
*Another side of the story has it that he was shattered and in tears when his first fiancee drowned. He went by a pool and as he kept staring into the pool, a reflection of our Lord appeared to him comforting him. It is this experience which made him, supposedly, compose the poem*
But what a way to express ones ever unflinching and resounding love to God, that too during tides, wherein our very foundation would have shook. Such are examples of how people have fought their way through, even if one had not see a solution in this lifetime, just as in Joseph Scriven who found solace in selflessness. The rewards he knew, was out of this world and in abundance.
This difficult time that we are all faced with is not a test of faith but for us to realize the importance of God in our lives; to draw strength out of and to find solace in Him.
Vincent Patton, Kohima