Archive for the ‘Horation Spafford’ Tag

What do you say to a friend who just watched his father suffer and die from cancer?

I believe the Bible…that it is God’s word.  I study it and teach it and seek to know it by heart.  I have found great words of comfort in it.  Knowing that you are dealing with the suffering and death of your father I wanted to share with you some things that I hope will bring you comfort.  However, I cannot begin to understand what you have been through these past few days and weeks and months – so I will not belittle your suffering by saying I know what you’re going through.

How many times did we sing the words of Isaiah 43:1-3 when we were in InterVarsity together at JMU.  I know that like me, this passage is ingrained in your memory.  It is a passage that has been very much on my heart and in my thoughts for you these past weeks.  Here is what it says:

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
When you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Of course you know these words convey a spiritual reality.  The water and fire in this passage are a picture of suffering and trial and tribulation.  Isaiah speaks the words of the LORD to his people and says that when they go through suffering He will be with them.  Great suffering does not mean that God stops being the God of His people.  He redeemed them.  He called them by name.  They belong to Him!  They will still be His people.  He will still be their God.  Don’t let the suffering scare you.  If, at any point, you are overwhelmed in suffering the loss of your father, remember the promise in these verses – He redeemed you and you belong to Him.  The loss you are suffering at this moment and in your most quiet moments on the road ahead may be unspeakable, but God has not deserted you.  He is the LORD.  He is the Savior.  I pray that you will cry out to Him and find comfort in His presence and in His word.

Horatio Spafford lost four of his daughters when their boat sank in the middle of the Atlantic.  He was supposed to be with them on that boat to go on vacation.  He stayed in the U.S. to work, hoping to join them later.  When he got the news of their death he got on the first boat he could and made his way to the place where the ship, holding his daughters, went down.  At that place he wrote the words to the great hymn, “It Is Well”.  Looking out on the water of the Atlantic Ocean, where his four precious daughters suffered and died, and as he was suffering from this unspeakable loss, he sought comfort in the great truths expressed in this poem:

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

My sin, oh the depth of this glorious thought,
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul

And Lord hast the day when my 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

Spafford found, through this ordeal, that the LORD was teaching him the faith and ability to say, even in the midst of the rolling billows of sorrow, it is well.  Like Spafford, I pray that the God of all comfort would also be teaching you to say, it is well.  Where does that kind of faith and ability come from?  It comes from learning to trust in the timeless truth that Christ has borne all our sin in our place and that a day will come when that trust or that faith will become sight and you will see your Savior face to face.  I hope these glorious truths bring you comfort during these days.