My Friend Jackie

  • Aug. 10, 2018
  • #9465

When a friend is going through trials, reach out and encourage them to turn to God for comfort and healing.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a favorite hymn. A hymn that always brings back memories of when I was in the hospital during the early days of my quadriplegia.

Man of Sorrows, what a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim,
Hallelujah, what a Savior

I remember when I wasn’t in physical therapy; I’d often head for the solarium. I’d ask the rehab aid to close the blinds, and there, in the dark, I would sing. But it wasn’t this hymn or song of praise that would come out of my mouth. Back then, I’d listen to Beatles albums all afternoon; I’d sing about black birds with broken wings or I would reminisce over the song, “Yesterday.” That was all I could think about, yesterday when I was on my feet.

Those were dark times — days when depression set in when I couldn’t even imagine the life that lay ahead for me. I felt so afraid and far from the Lord. But then one night, when visiting hours were over, when it was dark and the nurses at the station were on break, I got a surprise visit. I turned my head on the pillow and, in the dark, while my 5 roommates were asleep; I saw this silhouette of a person standing in the doorway. This strange visitor got down on its hands and knees and crept into the room quietly to not wake my roommates. I almost called out, but when this dark figure came up beside my bed, I recognized it was my high school friend, Jackie. She slowly stood up and lowered the guardrail, then climbed onto my mattress, and snuggled up close, just like high school girls used to do back then during pajama sleepovers. I couldn’t feel her next to me; I couldn’t even see my friend holding my hand, but when she did, she began softly singing this hymn: ‘Man of Sorrows, what a name, for the Son of God who came’

At that moment, something changed. Someone had reached out and found me. Jackie had made Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with my grief seemed so near; and that He understood. That night, I realized that Jesus reaches where no medication can reach, where no doctor can go; where no surgery can heal. And thanks to my high school friend, Jackie, I found a new song to sing. Just like Psalm 40 says, “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” That beautiful hymn became this one: “Man of Sorrows.”

With this being Friendship Week, I thank Jesus for friends like Jackie, because sometimes people need more than just hearing the Good News. They need to “experience” it through sacrifice of a friend. Just like Jackie visiting me in the wee hours.

Suffering can either drive people away from God, or to Him. And when you take time to invest in friendship, it is people like you who can help escort those who are suffering toward God. So if you have a friend who is discouraged, would you please ascribe a positive meaning to their hurt? Is there a friend who needs your encouragement? Like Jackie, be that friend who reaches out. It is what friends do for each other. And speaking of friends, don’t forget to visit today and watch a video of my good friend Steve Estes who counseled me out of depression. If you need encouraging words, he has them for you at

Song: "Man of Sorrows," What a Name, Author: P. P. Bliss (1875); Public Domain

© Joni and Friends



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