Horatio Spafford & Me

Oops. I accidentally posted this a bit ago with the wrong Horatio. Thanks to RW for alerting me. I knew when I did it something was off–how I got the name wrong, I will never know! Grace, I need grace!

I appreciate much the reading, comments, sharing, and subscribing so many of you have done. You have helped give me voice again. Those of you who have already subscribed (see the subscription link to the right of where you are reading now), are helping me get ready for the next opportunity–whatever that might be.

This faith journey is taking me somewhere–and from what you are saying, I have struck a nerve. I am not alone in wrestling, fighting, and struggling with God. My faith is not the only faith with deep questions. My life is not the only life that has faced, is still facing, and will face that dark night of the soul…

Thank you…

We went to worship yesterday.

That is nothing unusual. I normally enjoy being with God’s people when they gather together. I have long appreciated David’s words,

I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 122:1 NIV)

For the longest time, being inside a church building was just utter torment. Being in worship was just a reminder of what God didn’t do.

Praying? I will not claim to have ever had the kind of praying relationship I would have liked. So much of my prayers over the years have been wordless appeals to God. And now? Most of the time I start to pray, but it just drifts away because I have no idea what to pray for and expect in return. I believe God still hears me, but if He is waiting for me to have a clearer picture, we might be awhile…

I do try to say bedtime prayers with Casey. He doesn’t much want to do it, but on the nights he wants to, I end up angry at God all over again. It’s kind of hard not to get upset when a now seven year old asks God to tell his mom and brother hello. And God help me, he sent a letter to each of them in January by helium balloon–and he has asked God to have them send a letter back to him.

What do you do with that?

Singing? I have found little if any peace in worship music of any kind. Which is really saying something when you know how much I like bands and artists such as Mercy Me, Newsboys, Jeremy Camp, Chris Tomlin, and David Crowder. Over the last six months or so, they have largely been absent from my life.

And giving? I have tried in the past to be a generous giver–there was a time when I had a bit too much pride in that regard. But now? Maybe you might think I am being overly dramatic, but it feels like I have already given too much of me…

But those are my problems, not yours–and for me, I am striving to work through them.

At any rate, we went to church yesterday and heard a great sermon about children honoring their parents (Thanks TW). But I almost missed it

At some point before the preacher took the stage, we sang an updated version of an old hymn by Horatio Spaffordr. I sang it as hard as I could with tears streaming down my face.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul, It is well, with my soul, It is well, it is well, with 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!

It is well, with my soul, It is well, with my soul,It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And Lord, haste 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.

It is well, with my soul, It is well, with my soul, It is well, it is well, with my soul.

I wish it was.

I want it to be.

It is well… And though it isn’t always, I hope and trust, one day it will…

Thanks to a new friend and blog reader, I leave you with this prayer from Thomas Merton:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you and I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.

And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road although I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for you are ever with me and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

I want to believe.

How about you?

27 thoughts on “Horatio Spafford & Me

  1. Les, all I can say is I love you. Other than that, any words I could say would have little meaning.

    It all comes down to us loving each other, dear brother.

  2. After reading your entry today, I decided to do a little research on the song in question. Thank you for prompting me to do that! Much of what I found, I either didn’t know or didn’t remember. Seems Spafford (a prominent lawyer) had a ‘Job’ story too:

    1) 1870 – Death of only son [aged 4] – pneumonia.
    2) 1871 – The Great Chicago Fire – Ruined him financially.
    3) 1873 – Economic downturn – Further hit his business interests.
    4) 1873 – Lost all four of his daughters [aged 11, 9, 5, & 2] when their ship collided with another vessel and sank during a crossing of the Atlantic. He had sent his wife and daughters on ahead of him while he attended to some last minute business in Chicago. At least part of the reason for the trip to England was to attend a revival.

    Spafford wrote “It Is Well With My Soul” while traveling to meet his grieving wife who survived the shipwreck. In 1876, P.P. Bliss put music to Spafford’s words.

    5) 1876 – P.P. Bliss and his wife were both killed in a train wreck one month after P.P. Bliss first sang publicly: “It Is Well With My Soul”.

    The Spaffords went on to have three more children – two daughters and a son.

    6) 1880 – Death of only son [again, aged 4] – scarlet fever.

    Apparently, their Presbyterian church considered their tragedies as some kind of divine punishment. The Spafford’s found themselves in open conflict with what was the current Christian world.

    In 1881, the Spaffords, along with several others, traveled to Jerusalem and setup the American Colony, engaging in non-denominational philanthropic work.

    Bertha Spafford Vester [Spafford’s daughter] later wrote, “That he could write such words at such a time was made possible by the fierceness of his struggle and the completeness of the victory.”

    The above is a summary of the following sources:

    “The fierceness of his STRUGGLE…” I think that speaks for itself!

    I also found it very interesting that the third line of the first verse was later changed to: “…Thou has taught me to say” from the original: “…Thou has taught me to KNOW”.

    Maybe sometimes it’s too hard to say the words but it’s enough to know them to be true.

    • Yes, Bill, it is a crazy story Horatio lived. And I loved the idea of the verse changing from knowing to saying. Sometimes what you know isn’t always what you are able to say.

      I find myself in that position quite often. I “know” God, but sometimes it is hard to say with certainty how I feel or what I think. Sometimes people take what I say or how i feel and twist it all around to what they think I should be saying–and mostly because it is what they want me to say in order to be comfortable themselves.

      I don’t think I am doing a good job explaining myself this evening, but it is what it is…

      • I think I ‘get’ you a whole lot more than you might imagine. I agree with everything you just said in your reply! Amen.

        In general, people have strong associations, like: ‘A’ goes with ‘B’, and ‘C’ goes with ‘D’; therefore, ‘A’ can’t go with ‘D’, etc. If you ask them why ‘A’ can’t go with ‘D’ their answer often boils down to habit or convention or tradition (like not wearing white after labor day or something like that.) It’s difficult for folks to break out of these associations. If they hear you say ‘A’ then they conclude that you must mean ‘B’, or if they hear you say ‘C’ then they assume you must mean ‘D’. It’s hard to get across that maybe you really are saying ‘A’ and meaning ‘D’…AND, further, that it works and that it is OK!

        Ok, now I’m the one that is doing a poor job of explaining, but I think you’re doing a fine job of it!

        • This southern girl definitely gets the no white after Labor Day! (Lol) But, the A B C D was difficult for me to take in until I thought about assumptions we make instead of listening.

          • Yes, Shannon, that’s a huge part of it!…making an assumption w/o really listening.

            Another part of it is when we do listen, but we listen with old ears instead of new…we hear something (A) and it immediately triggers some conclusion in our mind (B)…failing to realize that there could be other valid conclusions (e.g. D). Sort of like, the earth was flat…well, until they realized that it wasn’t. 😉 There are other aspects too, but I haven’t quite figured out how to express them, yet.

    • I don’t know you, Bill, but thank you SO much for your well researched information on Horatio Spafford. His poem/hymn has for many long years meant very much to me and I’d read a lot of its history and his, but not nearly to this extent.

      And, you laid it out so well, too, including much more of the remainder of his life than I’d ever read. With your permission (and yours, Les) I would love to copy & and paste it to my lately languishing blog, along with the song – if I can find just the right version on YouTube to import. I’d also like to do the same on my Facebook page, where I have a whole lot of friends who might not even know the song, much less its history.

      Let me know, Les.

      Thanking you in advance,

      God bless each of you this day.


  3. Les,
    I was thinking about “heart pain” today…I feel it when I read your posts, I’m a medical person so I have ruled out any physical reason for it…it’s a weird pain, like a pulling /closing in ache…I know you know. I have thought of things to say to “help” or “ease your pain”…but figure they might make ME feel better..but not you…so I am just saying what is on my heart tonight, literally…I know this particular kind of pain is Spirit… is love, is of God. that’s all . love, Amy Aycock (long beach church of Christ)

    • Thanks Amy! And you are exactly right. This is a journey. And no words can offer a shortcut–it is a road that must be travelled!

  4. Charlie, Have you ever lost a child? Do you know what it feels like? Do you know what it feels like to feel that God has hidden his face from you when you need him the most? I’ll bet not or you would’nt be typing cute little poems that are supposed to make us feel better. That is one of the problems with most people is that they think they can just change what we think and things will get better. It does not work that way. I thought I was going to be strong and I was going to get thru this without any real problems. Oh, I knew it was going to hurt but I thought I was going to be ok but, I am not. When a parent looses a child others just need to shut up and let us morn. The bible say’s to morn with those that morn. Not try to change thier minds about it, and as far as counting your blessings?? Save that for someone does not live in a nightmare that you can’t wake up from.

    • Randy, my new friend, you are so right. And thank you for eloquently saying what you did. Unfortunately, I was so aggravated by the comment you are responding to that I deleted it. It was hurtful. And not just to me, but to my new wife. But I so appreciate your defense of me, yourself, and others who are hurting for whatever reason but especially the loss of a child. I hate that you know that pain. I hate it so much.

      This is the advice I would give to those who seek to serve the grieving…

      First, you have to realize that folks who are hurting can’t be fixed by your need to have them say so.
      Second, it is a process that ebbs and flows. And even though you may be good one day, the next brings the same old challenges to the forefront again.
      Third, hurting people have to hurt–let them without trying to fix them.

      Randy, we need to do lunch again soon!

    • My brother will never “get over ” losing his first born son to brain cancer that developed in utero and destroyed his life before it began. Neither will my parents, who were absolute rocks through Luc’s two years and seven months of being alive. The anguish our family felt/feels is lifelong, but we know God did not cause this tragedy. Yes, we want to know why-why Luc, why our family? When I get to Heaven I have a list of questions I want answers to. God knows how I feel because, trust me, I’ve told him over and over

      Mourning is personal and there is no formula. Countless books and programs are available, but not one gas answers.

  5. I was always prone to getting a little choked up in church. I’m one of those people that can cry at the drop of a hat – Hallmark commercials, movies, just some off hand comment – you get the idea, I’m a cryer. And when you are being told about someone who literally gave up their life for you – well, that’s moving. Well, since our specific tragedy I’ve found sitting through church, especially the music to be profoundly difficult. I’ve listened to Christian music for years and now I find it difficult to listen to it at all. I literally work less than five minutes from my home and in that time I’ll have tears streaming down my face before I reach my destination. When the Hurt and the Healer Collide will always have a bittersweet memory with me. You want to listen and believe inthe words but it starts the waterworks up every time! I think I’ll know I’ve turned a corner when I can once again enjoy music.

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