Yesterday I wrote about Horatio Spafford, and his unshakable faith in God, despite catastrophic circumstances in his life. (you can read that here) Anna, was Horatio’s wife. I would be remiss, not to include Anna’s testimony, her own walk of grief and faith. She too, along with her husband, lost all 5 of her children. Her 4 daughters drowned, while voyaging to Europe, from America, when the ship they were all on sunk. She watched her daughters drown, disappear into the black sea, after she lost the grip of one daughter’s little hand, and another daughter she watched slip beneath the icy surface of the water, when she could no longer hold onto her mother’s skirt. Her other 2 daughters were trapped below deck when the ship sunk. The scene was horrific. And all of that only a short time after losing her precious 4 year old son to Scarlett Fever and watching the Chicago fire destroy their Earthly fortune.
After Anna was rescued, witnesses remembered her saying, “God gave me four daughters and a son. Now they have been taken from me. Someday I will understand why.” Anna was utterly devastated. In fact, many of the survivors watched Anna closely, fearing she may try to take her own life, the grief being just too much to bear. But her faith was strong, unshakable, like her husband’s. Despite her grief and despair, Anna was heard saying on more than one occasion, “It’s easy to be grateful and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God.” Oh, the faith of Anna. How I long to have the faith of Anna and Horatio, two that have traveled this road of grief ahead of me.
They went on to have 3 more children; two daughters and another son. At four years of age, their second son also died. After the loss of their second son, the Spafford’s decided to leave their home in America and settle in Jerusalem. In September of 1881 the Spafford’s and a few of their friends left America for Israel where they served the needy, helped the poor, took in homeless children, and cared for the sick for the rest of their lives. Their reason for doing this after everything they had lost?! Their only cause and purpose for going to and living in Israel was to show those living about them the love of Jesus. These two, that had lost so much, lived out their lives showing others the love of Christ! Oh, how I long to have the faith of Anna and Horatio.
Bertha, one of the Spafford’s two surviving daughters wrote this about her parents. “In Chicago, Father and Mother searched their lives for explanation. Until now, it had flowed gently as a river. Spiritual peace and worldly security had sustained their early years, their family life and their home. But now, all around them people were asking the unvoiced question; ‘What guilt had brought this sweeping tragedy to Anna and Hoaratio Spafford?’ But Father never lost faith and was convinced that God was kind and that he would see his children again in Heaven. This thought calmed his heart, but it was to bring Father into open conflict with what was then the Christian world. But this did not cause any wavering. His faith was assured. To Father, this was a passing through the “valley of the shadow of death,” but his faith came through triumphant and strong. And it was that faith that enabled him to write his hymn, on the high seas, near the place where his children had perished.”
Their lives exemplified a trust in God that defied their circumstances. Oh, how I long to have the faith of Horatio and Anna Spafford. Though long gone, they are showing me how to grieve with hope…