Skip to main content

Horatio Spafford's Life

In 1871, Horatio Spafford lived in the Lake View suburb of Chicago. He was a young lawyer with a wife, Anna, and fourlittle girls. In October of that year, the whole center of the city was devastated by fire. No one is certain how the fire started, but it killed hundreds of people and destroyed whole sections of the city.

All across town, people were wandering homeless and hungry. The Spaffords were deeply involved in doing what they could to help families in distress. But it was no short- term ministry. Two years later, exhausted from their work, they planned a trip to Europe for rest. But at the last minute, business kept Horatio in town. Anna and the four girls boarded a ship and left the harbor.

Late one night during the voyage, another ship rammed the steamer, which sank within twenty minutes. One of only forty- seven who were rescued, Anna was pulled from the water, unconscious and floating on a piece of debris. But the four Spafford girls perished. Anna sent a telegram from Paris to her husband: “Saved alone. What shall I do?” She remarked to another passenger that God had given her four daughters and taken them away and that perhaps someday she would understand why.

Horatio boarded a ship to find his wife and bring her home. When the ship’s path crossed the very point where his daughters had been lost, the captain called him to his cabin and told him so. Horatio, deeply moved, found a piece of paper from the hotel in which he had stayed before the voyage. He jotted down the words to “It Is Well with My Soul,” now one of the world’s favorite hymns.

Back in Chicago, the couple tried to start over again. A son was born to them, and then another daughter. Maybe the worst was over. But then, another tragedy: the boy died of scarlet fever at four years old.

Inexplicably, the family’s church took the view that these tragedies were surely the punishment of a wrathful God for some unspecified sin on the part of the Spaffords. An elder in a church he had helped build, Horatio was asked to leave rather than being taken in and comforted by a healing community.

In 1881, the little family left the United States to begin a new life in Jerusalem. They rented a house in the Old City section, with the goal of imitating the lives of the first- century Christians as closely as possible. Soon the family was widely known for their love and service to the needy, as well as for their devotion to the Scriptures.

Even today, the Spafford Children’s Center serves Jerusalem and the West Bank by providing health care and educational support to as many as thirty thousand children annually under the leadership of the Spaffords’ descendants.
When David Jeremiah recounts this incredible story in his book What are you afraid of?', he helpfully observes that Anna and Horatio Spafford suffered severe testings of their faith, but they did not blame God for their suffering. They knew He was in control of all things, and because God could not be defeated, neither could they. Their faith allowed them to learn through their testings and to use their pain to bless others and further the Gospel.

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Jesus Never Fails

Many a times in my life, the words of this childhood hymn has been a tremendous encouragement. I pray this may encourage you too. Keep looking to Jesus! Jesus never fails, Jesus never fails The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails. Your mother will let you down Your father will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails. Your husband will let you down Your wife will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails Your brothers will let you down Your sisters-will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails Your church will let you down Your work will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails Your friends will let you down Your country will let you down The man of the world will let you down, but Jesus never fails Your wealth will let you down Your health will let you down The man of the world

Competing Spectacles, A Review

Over the last few weeks the country has been transfixed on the amazing run of the England football team in Euro 2020. I was initially put off watching the football after I saw the team shamefully bowing to BLM at the start of each game. But as the excitement has grown in the country, I have found myself irresistibly pulled to watch a few games in the tournament. The collective national gaze over England’s Euro 2020 is an example of what Tony  Reinke, the author of Competing Spectacles , calls a spectacle.   A spectacle is something visible that captures our collective attention. It is that moment when society’s eyes and brains focus on something projected at us. This may be a big political story, a sports event, a new film or a badly behaved influencer. We primarily experience spectacles through technologies we use. I have been experiencing the spectacle of Euro 2020 through our television, but others have consumed it on the mobile or in person.  Most spectacles are consumed through ha

An Empty Page

I am nothing without you I am not ashamed to say But sometimes still I doubt you along my way I am nothing without you An eagle with no wings If I forget about you, I lose everything My heart is an empty stage O let your play begin My life is an empty page for you to colour me with your love It’s such a common feeling to be misunderstood But from you there’s no concealing You know my bad and good So I am not pretending my story never fails But I have already read the ending And your love prevails My heart is an empty stage Let your play begin My life is an empty page for you to colour me with your love The words are from Jonathan Veira’s song Empty Page. One of the tracks off ‘ Rhythms of the Heart’ album. I like his music, and especially this song. Sadly, I couldn’t find the lyrics online, so I had to write them down word for word. I have had this song for many years and it has always spoken me at many lev