“Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul!’”
Horatio Spafford, a lawyer and elder in a church, had a happy life. He and his wife, Anna, had four daughters and they lived in Chicago. He had his family, he had the social status, he had money. He had a cottage where they lived and hosted evangelical leaders and abolitionists. In 1871, he invested in real estate to be used similarly. He had everything most people wanted and then some.
And then tragedy began to strike. In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire killed hundreds of people and wreaked havoc on the buildings in the area. Spafford’s real estate investment was gone. In 1873, all of his daughters drowned when the ship that they were on sunk. Anna, although unconscious when she was discovered, was the sole survivor. When Spafford received the news, he got on ship to go after his wife. As the ship sailed over the area where Spafford’s daughters had been drowned, Spafford wrote a hymn: It Is Well with My Soul.
Suffering is what spurred me to be a Christian; suffering is what caused me to doubt my faith; suffering is what drew me close to God again. Evil and suffering is one of the biggest objections I’ve heard of anyone having to Christianity, and it’s a hard one to grasp. I get it.
This semester, I’ve been having a really hard time with anxiety. Some days, it’s not awful. I just feel a little sick and I’m fidgety and nervous. Other days, I’m shaky, fatigued, sick, panicky, and getting out of bed is just kind of hard. I can’t pinpoint a reason; I wish I could. Some things seem to trigger my anxiety and make it worse, but I can’t cut out things and just make it disappear. Home is about 4 hours away, and I don’t get to visit home much, so I was really looking forward to Thanksgiving break.
Probably about a week ago, give or take a couple of days, my mom called me to let me know that my grandmama was having trouble breathing. They gave her morphine and she seemed to breathe easier, but she was asleep. Mom wasn’t sure if they should call it sleep or a light coma. She wasn’t very responsive. Dad thinks we might have her for the next week. Grandmama is in her late 90s, and she has Alzheimer’s. She hasn’t been able to talk coherently for a while, and she hasn’t know who I am for longer.
My parents went to Durham today to see Grandmama. I wanted to go, but since I woke up feeling sick, I didn’t want to put Grandmama at any more risk. They’ll be back later tonight.
As I sit in the house on Thanksgiving by myself, waiting for my family to come home, I’ve thought about how things haven’t gone the way I thought they would this year. I’ve been having a lot of discussions with my friends recently and I thought now would be a good time for a blog about thankfulness in harder times.I want to do a few blogs on it, but before I get to the logical side or the emotional side, I want you to know where I’m at. Know where I’m coming from.
My stance can be summed up well by Romans 5:1-5:
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
God hasn’t failed me yet; I rejoice in suffering because I know that God uses those things to shape me and others. I’m sad about my grandmother. I have fond memories from my childhood of making chicken and dumplings and huspuppies with her in the kitchen. My anxiety is difficult with everything I’ve had going on. Nevertheless, I’m thankful for the suffering, because even though I don’t always understand the reasons, I can always look back and retrospectively see how God had His hand in my life. I’m thankful for my family; they stick together through everything. I’m thankful for my friends, who I can look to for support and comfort and love. I’m thankful for all of it, good and bad.
Now that you get where I’m at, I’ll be doing a few more blogs on evil and suffering with arguments, so stay tuned.