This song was triggered by a line from a sermon. Bible teacher Charles Price was preaching at Spring Harvest in 1994, and illustrated some of the points in his talk by referring to an elderly Christian he knew. For many years his friend had this simple but profound saying that he would apply whatever came his way, whether challenge or tragedy: ‘For this I have Jesus’.
I was sitting on the platform, because I was leading worship in that meeting. As I listened, I began to see not only the point, but also the potential for a song. So I scribbled down a few thoughts and experimented with a melody in my head. When I had a bit of time back in my room, I started to sketch out the song.
I thought, ‘Let’s make everything build up to this line, “for this I have Jesus”.’ So the song is very much a list of things for which ‘I have Jesus’, that I can identify with, that others can identify with. It’s turned out to be one of those songs that encourage people who are going through difficulties, a formula to help them bring their problems to Christ instead of resorting to worrying, fear and anxiety and blaming other people – which is always what we tend to do when things go wrong.
We all lean on something, particularly when the hard times come. The question is the quality of what we are leaning on. Is it a substitute, a counterfeit, or is it the real thing? The Christian teaching is that we were never made to be simply independent of God, we were made for God, and to find fulfilment in a relationship with him. So without that we are incomplete and we haven’t fulfilled the purpose of our existence.
Roy Castle was a popular, successful and very well-respected entertainer. When he died after a long battle with lung cancer, the whole nation was saddened by the news. His wife Fiona seemed to draw from a deep well of strength through that time. She said that ‘For this I have Jesus’ had ‘a huge impact’ on her when she first heard the song at Spring Harvest 1995, shortly after Roy had died. ‘It expresses in a beautiful way the value of the relationship we have with Jesus,’ she said. ‘He is with us to help us in every circumstance of our lives.’
A Belfast woman explained how this composition had been a real encouragement to her after she discovered she had breast cancer – for the second time. ‘I received a card from a lady at church,’ she wrote, ‘and inside she had enclosed the words of the song. I hadn’t seen or heard the song before, and I was so thrilled by how they applied to my situation.’
‘Later that day I received a tape with the song on it. I was so blessed by the way the Lord used this in my situation. I claimed the words as I faced surgery. The words “for the weakness of my body” were very relevant.’
But we don’t need Jesus just for the bad times. We need him in the good times, too – as the song points out. We need him to cope with our success. Success can tempt us to become presumptuous or imagine that somehow we’ve done something great all by ourselves – as opposed to it really coming from the grace of God. For those times we have Jesus, too, the Jesus who came into his world not to be served, but to serve, and whose greatest success appeared at the time to be a gigantic failure – the cross.
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