Saturday, April 21, 2007

At A Loss For Words

Monday's shootings in Blacksburg have left me at a loss to know what to say or write. I live only about a hundred miles or so away so it feels like this happened right in our own backyard.

However, the words of this hymn, which was born out of tradgedy, keep coming to mind:

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. (Refrain)

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul. (Refrain)

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! (Refrain)

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul. (Refrain)

The lyrics were written by Horatio Spafford, a Chicago businessman who lost nearly everything in the great Chicago fire of 1871. In 1873, he decided to take his family to Europe. However, business delayed his departure and so he sent his wife and four daughters ahead. The ship they were travelling on was struck by another vessel and sank leaving his daughters among the victims. He sailed across the Atlantic to rejoin his wife and penned these words after passing the spot where the collision occurred. It would be the only hymn he would write.

It amazes me that in the midst of so much pain and loss Spafford was inspired to write this lyric. The truth that remains in the face of such evil is that God is still sovreign. We may not understand much about this event, but we can at least rest in the assurance of His sovreignity.

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