8/18/08

It is Well...

A change of pace for me this morning. I usually write about events and life at the farm. But today, I write about another reflection. In the last couple of weeks our community has experienced the loss of a child. A nine year old girl was killed in a 4-wheeler accident. The details are still sketchy but the reality of the situation has been quite disturbing to me.

I don't know the family, they are from Florida and were up here visiting their grandparents. I have spent over a week now grieving however, over the loss of a child so young. I haven't grieved for the child I did not know. I have grieved for the parents and grandparents, imagining the pain they must be experiencing. As with everything, I dramatize in my mind the sense of loss, the suffering, the emptiness. I have a friend who has lost two children and I inadvertently explained to her my grief as if she knew nothing. I have not lost my child yet I got so caught up in the drama, that I failed to remember she has. And how gracefully she has handled that event in her life and turned it to the glory of God.

This was the beginning of my wake up call. When is grief selfish and when is grief helpful?

This weekend I was fortunate to overhear the retelling of the story of Horatio Gates Spafford. He is the author of the popular hymn that I recall being titled "It is Well with My Soul". The words in that song alone can bring an unbelievable peace to one's spirit - oh the power of words!

It seems Mr. Spafford was quite the giving individual having helped many through the great fires of Chicago. He was scheduled for a vacation overseas with his wife and four daughters but for some reason, had to stay behind and finish some business while they went on ahead. On their trip, their ship went down and only the wife survived. He lost all of his children having lost a son earlier.

In this retelling, Mr. Spafford cruises to be with his grieving wife and spends a majority of the time on the cruise reading scripture and trying to figure out HOW God can let this happen and HOW God can heal a person who has lost a child - that sounded really familiar to my pity party last week except even more selfishly, it was not even MY child that had been lost. As he came upon what was speculated as the resting place for his four daughters, he went to the deck to cry out, carrying his Bible with him. As he opened the pages, there was the story of the cross!

I suspect that, upon hearing that telling, I had the same reaction though not as strongly as Mr. Spafford had. We ask God HOW can a parent endure the loss of a child. Of course, we know we have no right to ask God anything but still...those thoughts just carry forward. The answer however, if we concentrate on scripture is QUITE clear. God knows how we can because he as a parent lost his one and only son. He didn't lose that son to some unfortunate accident, he lost him by his own design - he sacrificed that one and only son for all the rest of humanity. He watched as his son was tortured, accused and abused and He kept his omnicient powers at bay while His son was dying on that cross. So, guess what? God knows all too well even the suffering of a left behind parent as he was left behind by a son who was the most perfect human to ever exist - a son who deserved nothing of the abuse he suffered. He did that for us - for me and you and our children. And yet we think we can ask God ANYTHING - or at least I trip myself up with that thinking at times.


From what I overheard, this was the revelation that inspired this song. Now the song rings even truer in my spirit than ever before. It's amazing to me how people can take words and create vision and peace. I am forever grateful God gave them that gift.

PEACE LIKE A RIVER
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.

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

He lives--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,
Oh my soul.

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

And, Lord, haste the day when our faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trumpet shall sound, and the Lord shall descend;

Even so, it is well with my soul...
It is well...with my soul...
It is well, it is well, with my soul...
~~Horatio Gates Spafford [1873

2 comments:

Nancy M. said...

I can't imagine the loss of a child either. I didn't know the story behind that hymn. Thanks for sharing. This was a very touching post.

"JEANNELLE" said...

Oh, my, what a lovely post you have written here! I love this hymn, and was absolutely stunned years ago when I heard Mr. Spafford's story. Incredible that he could pen such words at such a time, and what a blessing his hymn has been to people over the years. Out of tragedy came something very special for the world.

I am sorry to hear of the girl who died in the accident. I think its OK for you to grieve......you are empathetic......I am, too. It can almost be a problem at times, and may have contributed to a mental breakdown I had a couple years ago, but its who we are, and we have to be who we are. I truly believe that. Be who you are. You are empathetic and able to articulate your experiences well, which is a blessing to others.