A friend recently told the story behind the popular ancient hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. It was originally written by Joseph M. Scriven as a poem in 1855 to comfort his mother who was living in Ireland while he was in Canada. The story of Joseph Scriven is one of disappointment, trials and pain, yet he wrote the poem out of his undeniable conviction of the ever- lasting, all conquering love of God. He devoted his life to sharing the message of Jesus with others and his message lives on in this hymn today.

Somehow knowing the story behind a song, hymn, poem, or story, brings additional depth to our understanding and a deeper response to what we hear.

I recently went to see the musical ‘Beautiful’ in London. It’s the story of New York born, contemporary singer song writer Carole King, who’s talent produced 118 popular hits between 1955 and 2000, 61 of those chartingin the UK. The show is highly acclaimed, and very enjoyable, and although I had heard those popular songs many times before, hearing them in the context of her life story was a revelation.

It reminded me of our experience of reading, hearing, studying or sharing the stories in the Bible. They can be wonderful, insightful, challenging, exciting, inspirational, puzzling, or uplifting, but knowing the story behind the story brings added depth to our understanding of the message of scripture. Within our Community Bible Study classes and groups as we look at sometimes very familiar stories, there is always more to discover, always a deeper understanding to be grasped, and always a story behind the story which points us to deeper meaning and a deeper response to what God is doing in our lives, and in the lives of those around us.

In your classes or groups, may you hear the story behind the song, or the story behind the story, and may you grow to understand the deeper message of God’s Word as you study and share together each time you meet.