Sunday, December 30, 2012

What do you do when sorrows like sea billows roll?

Yes, the title reflects the words of Horatio Spafford which he penned after his four daughters drowned in the ocean.  His wife was the only one from the Spaffords to survive. (Horatio was not on the ship).  She even tried to hold their two-year-old daughter as she was ripped from her arms.  A couple of years before the shipwreck, Horatio and Anna experienced a difficult trial.
As you know, the Christian life can be full of dark providences.   Spafford invested in real estate north of an expanding Chicago in the spring of 1871. When the Great Fire of Chicago reduced the city to ashes in October 1871, it also destroyed most of Spafford's sizable investment. The rest of the story can be read by going to the link below.

Robyn and I have lost a daughter, Lindsay Ruth who was nineteen at the time of her death.  She was married and was eight months pregnant with her first child already named Emily Hope. Her precious baby also died and was placed in her arms two days later, fully developed, in the casket. How did this happen?
They were killed by a drugged driver on Sep 11, 2001. We were behind her returning from a prayer vigil for the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks. We were the first ones to run up on her dying form. One of our sons was "enlisted" by the paramedics to help try to revive her. Believe me when I say, there was plenty of trauma to go around. A year later, in November of 2002, we were able to buy a different house with money from an insurance settlement because of Lindsay's death.  We invested the $100,000 as a sizable down payment this house. We were trying to resume our lives. Our boys returned to work and school and I did my job as a social worker. Two years after Lindsay's death, Robyn developed breast cancer.One day when she was returning home from one of her radiation treatments in the Spring of 2004, I called her cell phone and told her I had just lost my job. There have been blessings of God since all of this has happened.
Heartfelt Ministries is born.
We started Heartfelt Ministries and know we have helped many hurting people. The ministry has its ups and downs financially and the job market, as many have experienced, is very difficult. We were able to meet most of our financial obligations since my job loss in 2002, but one bad year, when we only made $10,000.00 resulted in our losing the house that we bought with Lindsay's settlement; that happened last December (2011). Many questions have crossed our hearts and the evil one accuses God to us as to His love and goodness. But, we must persevere by God's truly amazing grace.

Are you tempted to despair? Oh  yes!   Are their questions unanswered? Oh yes.
How did the Spafford's make it, how have Christians of all ages been able to endure losses, trials and tribulation?  I have addressed this question in many of my blogs.  Robyn and I have treated the subject in our book, Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It, which is published by Kregel Publications of Grand Rapids.  The bottom line is that we walk by faith not by sight. Below are some words from a sermon by Charles Spurgeon, Faith versus Sight.

Spurgeon was a contemporary of the Spaffords.  Read carefully his words.
Genuine Christian reasoning is this—I have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ. He says that as many as receive Him are the sons of God. I have received Him, and I am therefore a son of God. Now, whether my Father kisses me or flogs me, I know that I am His son. I am not going to be guided by my state and condition, but by my faith as to the promise of the Word.

Lindsay Ruth
 He further says that if I have received Christ I  have the privilege to be a child of God. Then, whether I am rich or poor—whether I am sick or healthy—all these are matters of sight.III I do not bring them into the calculation. I take the naked Word of God as it stands—that I am God's child. If He slays me I am His child. If He lets me go to prison, if He should suffer me to rot in a dungeon, or to burn at the stake, I am still His child! I do not look upon circumstances as at all affecting my position.   
Oh Beloved, if you once begin calculating your position before God according to your temporal circumstances, where will you be? Do not talk any more of believing—you have given it up—and you are really walking by sight. Perhaps many of you do not make precisely this mistake, but there is another way of doing it. "Now," says one, "I have believed in Jesus Christ, but I am afraid I am not saved, for I feel tonight so depressed in spirits, and so unhappy." "Oh," says another, "you need not tell me that I have trusted in Jesus Christ, for I am sure I am saved, because I feel so happy."

The purpose of Heartfelt Counseling is to come alongside, and comfort those suffering from mental illness, bereavement and the persecuted church. I invite you consider joining us online for a our CAMI (Christians Afflicted with Mental Illness) support group.  You can call me at 616.427-0775 or email me, for more information.

Here is the link to  a blog about the Spaffords.

Our book Broken Minds has been published by Kregel Publications.   It is available in Kindle,'
It has a powerful story line and has also been given an academic status by Kregel.