Friday, May 17, 2013

The Overcomers: Saved Alone. What Shall I Do?

In the 1860s, Horatio Spafford, a friend of the evangelist Dwight L. Moody, lived in Chicago with his wife, Anna, and their five children.  The Spafford family belonged to a Presbyterian Church and, by 1860 standards lived an idyllic life, well, that is until 1870 when the Spafford's only son died of pneumonia.  While still reeling from that loss, Chicago's Great Fire destroyed much of the Spafford family's assets.  Perhaps in hopes of easing the pain of their recent tragedies, in 1873, the Spaffords decided to take a trip to England, where Moody would be preaching, but Horatio was held back due to business, and so, he sent his wife and four daughters ahead of him promising to catch up soon.  Then the unthinkable happened, the ship carrying Spafford's family wrecked.  All four of the Spafford's daughters drown.  When she reached shore, Anna sent Horatio a cable saying: "Saved alone.  What shall I do."  What indeed.  As he sail across the spot where his little children had just drown, it is said that Horatio wrote the famous hymn "It Is Well With My Soul."  

After the shipwreck, Anna would go on to give birth to three more children, a son who died of pneumonia at age four, and two daughters who survived.  The Presbyterian Church to which the Spafford's belonged claimed all the tragedy in their lives was due to divine punishment so the family created their own Christian sect, which the pressed dubbed "the Overcomers."  Funny, that nothing memorable remains from the Presbyterian church members who persecuted the Spafford's, but the hymn and the story lives on today more one and fifty years later.

Its hard for me to think of an existence more difficult and tragic than the Anna and Horatio Spafford's.  Their story reminds me of Job.  Yet, in their day, People knew them as the Overcomers, not the Mourners.  Truth: Right now, I am scared and hurt.  But, I still have a choice as to how I behave.  I can hang my head and mourn, or I can pray, dust myself off, and count myself an Overcomer.  Its about choice. 

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