Summary: This is the third aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. All Christians should have a peace beyond anything this old world has to offer. That peace is only found in Christ. May you find this peace.
The Fruit of the Spirit – Peace
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. [NASB]
Horatio Gates Spafford (1828-1888)
In 1871 the city of Chicago was nearly destroyed by fire – [known as the Great Chicago Fire], over 300 people died from the flames and approximately 100,000 were left homeless.
One of the heroes in the aftermath was Horatio Gates Spafford. Spafford, who was an attorney, had lost a great deal of real-estate in the fire. Despite such great personal financial loss and then combined with the untimely death of his son - [during this same time period] - Spafford for around two years unselfishly helped to assist the needs of the homeless, impoverished, and grief-stricken by the fire. Such merciful and kind acts as these to his fellow-men just helped to strengthen the testimony as to why Horatio G. Spafford was known throughout Chicago as a sincere, devout Christian.
After about two years of such work, in November 1873, Spafford and his family decided to take a vacation. Because Spafford was a loyal friend and supporter of Dwight L. Moody, he and his family decided that they would meet up with Moody and Ira Sankey on one of their evangelistic campaigns in England, and then from there the Spafford’s planned on traveling on to Europe.
Just as the Spafford’s were preparing to leave, Horatio was unexpectedly detained by urgent business concerns in Chicago. The decision was made that his wife Anna and their daughters – Anna (Annie), Maggie, Bessie, and Tanetta would continue on as scheduled to England. Once after Spafford had resolved the business concern he would then catch up with them on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
The ship, the S.S. Ville du Harve, which his wife and daughters were traveling on never reached England. Off Newfoundland, the ship collided with an English sailing vessel, the Loch Earn. The ship sank rapidly, approximately within 20 minutes after it was struck.
Mrs. Spafford was only one of the 47 to survive; tragically all four of their daughters were part of the 226 who perished in the aftermath. Anna Spafford’s heartbreaking telegram to her husband simply read: “Saved alone.”
Horatio immediately set sail for England to join his grief-stricken wife. As the ship that he was traveling on passed the approximate location where his daughters had drowned, [it is reported] that due to his deep sorrow mingled with his unwavering faith in God’s goodness that he penned the words of his now famous hymn - “It Is Well with My Soul.”
It Is Well with My Soul
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea-billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to know;
“It is well, it is well with my soul.”
Tho’ Satan should buffet, tho’ 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 His cross and I bear it no more;
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh, 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.”
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live,
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for death as in life
Thou shalt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
It is well, it is well with My soul.
[Material adapted from – Horatio Gates Spafford, http://www.cyberhymnal.org/bio/s/p/spafford_hg.htm, 10/24/03; The Story of Horatio G. Spafford, http://www.anglefire.com/ms/spiritual/page16.html, 10/24/03; Horatio G. Spafford, It Is Well With My Soul, http://hymns.net/stories/spafford.htm, 10/24/03; It Is Well with My Soul, http://acacia.pair.com/Acacia.Vignettes/It.Is.Well.With.My.Soul.html, 10/24/03]
Probably very few of us will ever face such depth of tragedy like Horatio Spafford.
• However, if we live long enough, some type of tragedy will find its way into our lives.
• For some it will be the death of a loved one – such as a child, parent, or our spouse.
• To others of us tragedy may strike with a heart attack, cancer, or some other major disabling disease.
• There can be divorces, financial ruin, or lost of close friends and associates.
• Sometimes the tragedies are not even personal – who will ever forget the senselessness of 9-11 or the explosion of the space-shuttle, Columbia.
• Tragedy comes up all – non-Christian and Christian alike - no matter the circumstance in life.
So calamity will come --- how do you face them? --- Do you become anxious? --- Or, do you face them with calm, knowing that that too will pass?