This sermon is to encourage us to be ready to accept life the way it is, knowing that it is only in heaven that life will give us its true meaning.
Life is the most difficult thing to explain. To many persons it means different things. It is seen as a phenomenon – a remarkable development.
One thing in the mind of every individual – everybody want and wish for himself the best in life.
We are in the last month of 2017 and when the year began, we all had the expectations for a better year, but at this moment how has life turn out to be?
Let us draw a lesson from the life of Horatio Gate Spafford who wrote this hymn “when peace like a river”
- Born on October 20, 1828 in USA
- He established a law firm in Chicago in 1856
- Within so short a time he became so famous due to the wonderful way he was handling and presenting cases in the law court
- Because of his performance, Lind University appointed him Professor to take care of the institution’s medical laws.
- He was a Sunday school teacher and director and trustee of the Presbyterian theological seminary in Chicago
- His law practice took him to so many other countries: Scotland, England and many parts of Europe and the western world.
- A popular lawyer, well renowned. Law practice fetched him money such that he became very rich and had large expanse of land as his estate on the shores of lake Michigan.
However, as it is natural for man to face the ups and downs of life, he was not spared the agony of fire disaster which occurred in 1971 in Chicago city which nearly raged his estate.
All those Christian friends, brothers and sisters, who had at one time or the other received financial assistance from Spafford, deserted and absconded him to his fate.
He was so discouraged and disappointed that he decided to relocate his family to Europe.
As this idea came to him, he decided to stay back after he had received an unexpected business call to wait behind. This, he had no other choice than to do, and as such, sent his wife and four daughters to Europe. They boarded a ship called S. S. Villa du Havre in 1873, precisely in November with the assurance to join them later.
Mid-sea, the ship conveying his wife and children collided with an English ship called the ‘Locheran’ and with moments the ship sank. Mrs Spafford and many other occupants of the ship survived the shipwreck but unfortunately, the four daughters were drowned. Yes! Gone forever. When Mrs. Spafford arrived Cardiff, Wales, she sent a telegram to her husband with the terse comment, “save alone” with another small note of a comprehensive report on the death of their four daughters. As if the temptations tracking Mr. and Mrs Spafford were determined to overwhelm them, they also lost their son in 1880.
As soon as he received his wife’s message he set out on a journey to join her, possibly to condole with her. When he got to the very spot in the high sea where he was told he lost his four daughters, the thought of the great loss so overwhelmed him that he was thinking about it, the words of the hymn flashed through his mind. It was to him as if somebody was by his side, tapping his shoulders and telling him “son, despite the Chicago fire that claimed all your properties, despite the death of your four daughters and son, it is still well with your soul” It is well with my soul, came to him at mid sea but he did not write the words immediately, but until a short while after.
Brethren, so many things has happened to us in this life and many will continue to happen.
Lessons from Horatio Spafford Story:
- Life can turn us around at any given time.
- Don’t think it is over until it is over
- Our best friends can desert us in our moments of calamity.
- Life can take from us even our children, husbands and wives.
It happened to Job – He lost his children, wealth and health. He even lost the love and comfort of his wife. To worsen his situation his friends broke his heart by telling him that he suffered from his evil deeds.
How Has Life Dealt With You
– You had the expectations of fathering children but none up till now.
– You had the expectations of having God fearing children but all have become wayward.
– You had the expectations of choosing a life mate from many that will come your way but up till now nobody has asked your hand in marriage.
– With your best certificates after school, but life has treated you as you have never entered a school compound.
– You are now counted a widow and a widower at a younger age with the burden of rearing children alone. That is life for you.
– You had the number of children that was enough for you, but you have lost some.
– All the days of your life, you are struggling with one form of sickness or another when the wicked ones around you are enjoying life in this world. This is the opposite of your expectations in life.
– You expected to have the most beautiful marriage, but what has your spouse become to your life.
– You can tell what you never thought life could bring to you.
We Have a Part to Play in the Life of Individuals that are Burdened
- Let us not bring more burden to the broken hearted.
- Let us not love only when life goes on well with our fellow ones. See the friends of Job. See the friends of Spafford.
God is still our benevolence father. He sees and knows.
Our hope should go beyond this life.
Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” – 1 Cor. 15:19.
Our hope should be the eternal life in heaven whereby life will give us its true meaning.
- We should count everything in life as lost so that we can receive the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. Phil. 3:9-10.
- We should know that what has happened to us had already happened to others and will continue to happen.
- This world is not our home – when we reach our home, God shall wipe all tears from our eyes, there shall be no more sorrow, death, nor crying, neither pains, for all shall pass away. Let us learn to say “It is well with my soul”.
From the lyrics of the song written by Spafford:
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, “it is well, it is well with my soul”
Everything under this sun is vanity. Let heaven be our ultimate aim.
Few days to wrap up 2017, let us hope that 2018 shall bring us more good things. This I pray in Jesus name – Amen
UYO TOWN CHURCH OF CHRIST, 20 PAUL BASSEY STREET, UYO
SERMON PRESENTED BY BRO. M. M. AKPAN (MIN)