In 1873 a prominent American lawyer called Horatio Spafford sent is wife and four daughters on a steamship to England for a holiday with the plan to follow them shortly after. Tragically the steamship sank and his four daughters, along with 222 others, died. His wife survived. Spafford was a Christian, this event must have shook his faith in God to the core.
Do you ever doubt God? Do you ever feel like God just isn’t there? Maybe your prayers are not answered, or you feel such apathy, hurt or doubt that you cannot even bring yourself to pray.
Please be encouraged and keep going. There are all sorts of reasons why bad things happen but it is important to remember that God is in control of all situations, no matter how grim, hopeless, or even tragic they may be.
In the Bible a prophet called Ezekiel had a vision where he saw many people who had completely turned away from God and had begun to chase after other reasons to live. Some had begun worshiping the sun, others had started behaving in ways that hurt themselves and those around them. Their reasoning was, “The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land.” But in the vision there was a real sense of the holy jealousy of God. Even when God seems absent we should still give him the worship that is due to him.
Many wise and insightful people have written books exploring about how pain and suffering can be reconciled with the existence of a loving and powerful God. It is important to engage our intellect on this issue but a great way to engage our whole being with the issue of suffering and an absent God is to actually worship God!
After receiving the news of the death of his four children Spafford came immediately to England. It is said that it was shortly after passing the spot of the tragic accident in the Atlantic that Spafford wrote the hymn ‘Peace like a River.’ An amazing response of worship in the midst of the worst nightmare that could happen to anyone.
Everybody’s suffering is unique. Our experience of God is unique. What will mark us out as those who loved God is how we respond to him in those difficult times.