A Christian thirty-something recently shared she had only had a relationship with Jesus Christ for five years. Two years ago she was in a room of nearly one hundred people and was wowed they all followed Jesus. Imagine how overwhelmed she was upon entering a Christian convention with one of the convener’s . She commented to him how wonderful it was to be with so many people who knew Jesus. His immediately reply to this young Christian was, “Don’t be deceived”.
My immediate thought was of a blog post promoted by CNN last week that spread like wildfire on Facebook. Rachel Evans wrote in “Why millennials are leaving the church” about worship styles, culture wars, and marketing. What she was really talking about was trust. Many millennials are leaving the organized church because they don’t trust “it”. That “it” is a group of people not trusted by many in this group ranging in age from nearly adolescent to those approaching thirty.
That thirty-something young Christian was once more in a room filled with people claiming to be Christians. After sharing her experience of being told “Don’t be deceived”, she looked around the room filled with about eighty Christians of all ages an stages and said, “That is not true here. I have watched you and listened to you for nearly two years. You are who you say you are.”
My heart leapt when I heard her testimony. She trusted this community of faith based on her own experience. There is hope for a church that often is rightly judged wanting by those who live outside its community! Hope is built on trust.
Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) was a wealthy Chicago lawyer and devout Christian who lived from 1828-1888. He was blessed with a wife, four daughters and a son. Dwight L. Moody was among those he counted as friends.
At the very height of his financial and professional success, Horatio and his wife Anna suffered the tragic loss of their young son just before the Great Chicago Fire on October 8, 1871 destroyed almost every real estate investment he had.
In 1873, Spafford scheduled a boat trip to Europe in order to give his wife and daughters a much needed vacation and time to recover from the tragedy. Some last minute business forced Spafford to send his wife and daughters ahead. He promised to join them in a few days but before he could make good on his he received notice that his family’s ship had encountered a collision that claimed the lives of all four of his daughters; only his wife survived.
With a heavy heart, Spafford boarded a boat that would take him to his grieving Anna in England. It was on this trip that he penned those now famous words, “When sorrow like sea billows roll; it is well, it is well with my soul”. For more than a century, the tragic story of one man has given hope to countless thousands who have lifted their voices to sing, “It Is Well With My Soul”.
Spafford had hope in the midst of tragedy after tragedy because he trusted the goodness and faithfulness of Jesus when he neither understood God’s plan nor saw His goodness in the moment. His hope for future blessing was rooted in daily trust. His life was not destroyed by calamity, but deepened.
He is not unique. All who trust in God will be lifted by hope over the raging seas of sadness.