Friday, February 27, 2015

It Is Well With My Soul

It seems like my heart is drawn to stories of people who have endured great tragedy.  Take for example, Horatio Spafford, a successful lawyer and businessman who lived in the 19th century.  He  had invested in property in the Chicago area.  However, the 1871 Great Chicago Fire ruined him financially.  There was also a downturn in the economy in 1873 which added to his woes.  Planning to travel to Europe with his family, he decided last minute to send his wife and four daughters ahead while he dealt with some business issues in Chicago, planning to meet them at a later time.

Then unspeakable tragedy occurred.  His family's ship, the SS Ville du Havre collided with a vessel, the Loch Earn, and all four of his daughters died as their ship sank rapidly.  His wife sent him a chilling telegram, "Saved alone", to tell him of the horrific news.

Mr. Spafford then sailed to Europe.  As he passed the area where his daughters had died, he felt led to write the hymn, "It Is Well With My Soul." This glorious song states:

"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, (it is well),
With my soul, (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 has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, 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, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, 'tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul."

So hard to focus on just one line of this wonderful hymn.  Yet, as a believer in Jesus, the first verse really captures my attention, urging me in whatever situation, to proclaim "it is well with my soul."  In peaceful times, it is well,  In sorrowful times with waves of grief, it is well.  In good health, it is well.  When dealing with cancer, it is well. 

Furthermore, Kristene DiMarco has an encouraging song, based on Horatio Spafford's old hymn.  She sings how through it all, my eyes are on the Heavenly Father.

 Is it well with your soul?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Looking For That "Joseph" Moment

I love the story of Joseph in the Bible, found in Genesis chapters 37-50.  I admire Joseph for several reasons.  First of all, of the many people listed in the Bible, Joseph is never listed as doing any kind of wrong or making mistakes (such as I have made).  Not that Joseph was sinless, mind you.  He is just described as devout even in the midst of dire circumstances in life.  You could say he made it to the finish line without any blemishes in his faithfulness to God.

In addition, Joseph endured some horrific trials.  As a boy, he was sold by his jealous brothers into slavery and was carried off to Egypt.  Even as he began to become successful in his life, he was wrongly accused of rape and put into prison for multiple years.  I believe I heard someone say he was incarcerated unjustly for well over ten years.  Although he prospered somewhat in the jail, I imagined he wondered if he would ever be released.

Then it happened.  Pharaoh had a series of dreams that no one could interpret.  Joseph had previously interpreted some dreams for some fellow inmates and was summoned by Pharaoh.  With divine wisdom, Joseph described vividly to Pharaoh of the coming famine in Egypt as revealed in his dreams.  This is especially the part or the verses I like:

"So Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are.  You shall be over my house, and according to your command all my people shall do homage; only in the throne I will be greater than you.'"(Genesis 41:39-40).

Isn't that wonderful?  Joseph went from zero to hero in mere moments, from the jail to the palace, from being a prisoner to being a prime minister.  His transformation is what I call the "Joseph" moment.  Life becomes joyous, all needs are met, living becomes fun again.

We all need these Joseph moments in life.  When dealing with cancer, it's refreshing to hear the doctor say things like, "All scans are clear" or "You've been cured".  No more chemotherapy, no more hair loss, no more fatigue, no more nausea, no more hospitalizations, no more blood transfusions.  Life is good again.

Of course, Joseph moments don't simply apply to cancer.  They can occur in any situation in life when a drastic change is needed.  For example, I know I need a Joseph moment in my finances.  It seems like I'm constantly struggling to pay bills, wondering if I'll ever get ahead, worrying if I'll ever be able to make needed repairs in my home.  You could say I'm in a financial dungeon.

Yet, Joseph had his day, even when things seemed rather hopeless.  Perhaps my day is coming soon as I remain faithful.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Hard Work Provides Opportunities For Success

Last night my Bible study group was discussing a passage from Acts chapter 2.  We talked about the beginnings of the modern day church.  According to Acts 2:42, the early Christians did four specific things, that is, they were "continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching, and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."  In other words, the development of the church didn't just happen.  It took hard work, commitment, an "all-in" attitude to keep the fire going. 

In most things, success doesn't occur overnight.  I'll give you a modern day example.  My stepson is a great trombone player.  He is currently in graduate school, hoping to teach music in college one day.  He is a gifted instrumentalist, but his performance skills have not magically appeared.  While he was living at our home, he spent countless hours practicing the trombone, sacrificing time for other things to perfect his skill.  The trombone has required total commitment to advance to his level.

So, except for a select few people in life, there really isn't an easy way to success.  Whether this involves overcoming adversity such as cancer or becoming proficient in a musical instrument, hard work provides an opportunity for victory.  One day, the perspiration, the tears, the agonizing choices, the sacrifices, will all pay off.