A beloved young hero in our town crossed the final finish line last night. I just bet Jesus met him at Heaven's gates, and hugged him tight.
Whenever I hear about a terrible tragedy, or an overwhelming sadness, I can't help but be thankful for hope. So many times I wonder how people without hope--eternal hope--survive tragedy.
In light of the sadness in our little town today, I'd like to tell you a story about one of my favorite old hymns. I grew up singing this hymn in church, but didn't really begin to love it until I learned about how it came about to be. How Horatio Spafford came to write the beautiful words...because of his own terrible tragedy...
Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) was a wealthy Chicago lawyer with a thriving legal practice, a beautiful home, a wife, four daughters and a son. He was also a devout Christian and faithful student of the Scriptures. His circle of friends included Dwight L. Moody, Ira Sankey and various other well-known Christians of the day.
At the very height of his financial and professional success, Horatio and his wife Anna suffered the tragic loss of their young son. Shortly thereafter on October 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed almost every real estate investment that Spafford had.
In 1873, Spafford scheduled a boat trip to Europe in order to give his wife and daughters a much needed vacation and time to recover from the tragedy. He also went to join Moody and Sankey on an evangelistic campaign in England. Spafford sent his wife and daughters ahead of him while he remained in Chicago to take care of some unexpected last minute business. Several days later he received notice that his family's ship had encountered a collision. All four of his daughters drowned; only his wife had survived.
With a heavy heart, Spafford boarded a boat that would take him to his grieving Anna in England. It was on this trip that he penned those now famous words, When sorrow like sea billows roll; it is well, it is well with my soul..
As you let these words and this music wash over you, I ask you to pray for our town. Please pray for our young hero's family and dear friends. He will surely be missed. But, many of us are looking forward to a wonderful reunion someday soon, in Heaven.
Because there is HOPE. Do you have hope?