And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12: 1-3 NIV
Looking out our window today at a thick haze of smoke with the air quality at 400, I see the evidence of the 2020 West Coast Fires. The great loss the fires have left in their wake is a lot to take in with everything else that has transpired in this past year.
Tomorrow marks the One Year anniversary of my brother’s passing. Losing a sibling is very different than losing a parent, in that nothing can really prepare you for it and the psychological/emotional impact. In the months that followed his death, I witnessed the declining health of other family members. My Father-in-Law passed away and because of the Coronavirus Sequester, we were not able to have a Funeral for him. My husband had unexpected surgery and was unable to work for six weeks while he recovered. He went back to work for a week before being deemed “nonessential” and then was out of work again. Gratefully, one bright spot was my daughter married our wonderful Son-in-Law and had a beautiful wedding in March, right before the Corona Virus Lockdown.
In addition to the above mentioned personal trials, the loss of lives and livelihoods from Covid-19, the political climate, the shut down of churches, racial division, rioting and devastation from hurricanes have all taught us that everything can change in a second. Gratefully, we have been forewarned in God’s Word, “Everything that can be shaken will be shaken . . . so that what cannot be shaken may remain.” (Hebrews 12:26-27 NIV)
This morning after we watched our church’s online service, my husband asked me to play an additional worship song from my iPad. I went to my Worship Playlist and the first song that played was Bethel Music’s, It Is Well with Kristene DiMarco. (See video below.) It is not the old hymn, It Is Well With My Soul, but it has the old hymn’s refrain in it. It moved us deeply and it reminded me of the story behind the hymn.
Horatio G. Spafford was a successful lawyer and businessman in the 1800’s. In 1871, he lost his four-year-old son to pneumonia and was ruined financially by the Chicago Fire. He had invested heavily in property in the Chicago area which was significantly damaged by the great fire. A few years later, Spafford and his family were to sail to Paris to celebrate the Christmas holiday. At the last moment, some business issues came up and he sent off his wife, Anna and their four daughters with the consolation that he would join them a few days after their arrival by boarding a later ship. While crossing the Atlantic, his wife’s ship collided with another vessel and his four daughters died at sea. Upon receiving his wife’s telegram informing him of the tragedy, he wrote to a friend, “There is one thing in these days that has become magnificently clear, I must not lose faith.” He then set off to meet his wife in Paris. As Spafford sailed to Paris, the Captain of the ship pointed out to him the place where the shipwreck had occurred and it was there that he penned the words that later became the famous hymn.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
Their story did not end there. Spafford and Anna returned to Chicago and Anna soon gave birth to a son and then a daughter. That son, Horatio Jr., died of Scarlet Fever at the age of three. A year later, another daughter was born. Only two of Spafford’s eight children lived to adulthood. Through all of their tragedies, the family kept the Faith. They moved to Jerusalem in 1881 and started a ministry to children. That ministry has transformed through the years to an orphanage and now is a children’s hospital in East Jerusalem, The Spafford Children’s Center.
Everything that could be shaken was shaken, but their faith remained and from it they sowed seeds of service that continues to multiply to this day. Dear friend, whatever you are going through, Keep the Faith. FIX YOUR EYES ON JESUS! Consider Him and all He has done and will do, that you may not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:2-3)
Dear Lord, You know our frailty. You know our proneness to fear and doubt. May we not sink like Peter by looking at the storms around us but help us to trust you and to keep our eyes on you! Use us to bring hope and faith to our neighbors, our country and our world. Remind us that one day our Faith will be made sight and we shall see all that you were working out for our good, even in our darkest moments. LH
Featured Photo By: Lisa Hempel – Earmark Expressions