TRUSTING GOD IN THE STORMY EXPERIENCES OF LIFE
First Reading: Amos 3:1-8,4:11-12
Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 5:5-8
Gospel Reading: Matthew 8:23-27
The late 19th-century hymn: “It is well with my soul,” written by Horatio Spafford (in 1873) was borne out of a virulent storm that struck his family. It has come to be one of the most influential and enduring hymns appearing in hymnals of a wide variety of Christian fellowships. Here, Spafford knew something about life’s unexpected challenges. He was said to be a successful attorney and real estate investor who lost a fortune in the great Chicago fire of 1871. Around the same time, his beloved four-year-old son died of scarlet fever. Thinking a vacation would do his family some good, he sent his wife and four daughters on a ship to England, planning to join them after he finished some pressing business at home. However, while crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the ship was involved in a terrible collision and sunk. More than 200 people lost their lives, including all four of Horatio Spafford’s precious daughters. His wife, Anna, survived the tragedy. Upon arriving in England, she sent a telegram to her husband that began: “Saved alone. What shall I do?” Horatio immediately set sail for England. At one point during his voyage, the captain of the ship, aware of the tragedy that had struck the Spafford family, summoned Horatio to tell him that they were now passing over the spot where the shipwreck had occurred. As Horatio thought about his daughters, words of comfort and hope filled his heart and mind. He wrote them down, bringing about this well-beloved hymn: “It is well with my soul.” The hymn calls us to focus on God in the storms we face in life, even if it appears that we are losing or have lost everything. The attitude of Spafford in his ‘life’s storm’ is not disconnected from today’s message.
Both readings appear to be at contrast with each other. While God warns the Israelites of the impending storm as a result of their sins in the first reading, Christ remains silent (and asleep) in the midst of the violent storm that rocked their boat without prior warning before the “faithless” disciples. We are told that the disciples woke Christ up, saying: ‘Save us, Lord, we are going down!’ This teaches us how our attitude should be in the midst of the storms we face in life, calling upon Christ to intervene in our situations. It also teaches us that sometimes God may allow us to experience life’s storms and prefer to remain silent in order that we might get closer to Him, invoke Him and trust Him all the more; or sometimes, warn us ahead of the impending storm that lies ahead of us as a result of our sins.
At various points in time, many have experienced violent storms that have caused much damages and havoc in their lives. For some, these storms of life have threatened their peace, comfort, and joy, and often bring about fear, doubt, and hopelessness. Truth is, none of us wants to go through a stormy experience; but we should understand that most often than not, storms are actually vital for us. God uses them not only to reveal himself but to shape us to become better persons with a lively faith.
Dear friends in Christ, are you facing a “storm of life” right now? By that I mean, are you facing some kind of crisis or unexpected tragedy? Are you losing hope? Kindly know at this point that our Lord Jesus Christ will “get you to the other side” safe and sound. Trust Him. He will not abandon you or let you down. You have His Word on it. For He, Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Trusting God in the Storms of Life entails that whatever you face in life, you should submit yourself to God, saying: “It is well with my soul.” Therefore, Storms will come, however, they have their purposes; while we pray like the Psalmist: “I lift my eyes to the mountain, from where shall come my help, my help shall come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1-2), we should also sing like Horatio Spafford:
“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 with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.”
And yes, God intervened in Spafford’s stormy life. He ‘rose again.’ His wife Anna Spafford later gave birth to three more children. In August 1881, they moved to Jerusalem. Mr. Spafford died and was buried in that city.
Kindly watch the video reflection by click on the link above…
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
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