Volume. XXVII, No. 7
Sunday, 12 August 2012

When Adversity Comes

During a recent visit to one of the seniors who attends our church, we had a discussion on  how God had blessed all of us and given to us all that we needed: physically, emotionally and spiritually. We did acknowledge that sometimes there is unpleasantness in our lives when sickness comes and when our bodies  deteriorate with age. It was so wonderful for the senior person to witness to me about the providence of God in the life of a Christian and how a thankful heart overcomes some of the debilitating health issues that many elderly people face in their twilight years. It was a time of reflection from the heart and provided an insight to me and perhaps to many among the youth who may be reading this article, of what may come later on in life and the faith that keeps our souls intact.

In the context of our discussion, we shared about the life of the hymn writer Horatio Spafford who wrote the hymn “It is well with my Soul”. When I came back home I decided to research more about this man and the hymn he wrote. Reading about his life, it was for me,  a lesson of Christian endurance when we face life\'s difficulties. We may have read about Job\'s situation, but here was Horatio Spafford’s account of what happened only about 140 years ago and how he dealt with the tragedy that struck him. Horatio was a well-educated man, a  prosperous lawyer and devout Presbyterian Church elder.  He and his wife, Anna, were living comfortably with their four young daughters in Chicago. They were a church-going family attending church and various fellowship meetings throughout the week, much like many families in Hope BP Church. In 1871 a great fire broke out and devastated the entire city of Chicago. The fire destroyed much of the wealth that the Spafford family had. In 1873, concerned about his wife\'s health, Horatio Spafford planned an extended holiday in Europe for his family. Just before the ship was due to sail, Horatio had to postpone his departure because he had to attend to some real estate business. Anna and the four girls sailed to Paris on the steamer which sank in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean within minutes, after being rammed by the British iron sailing ship the Loch Earn. Anna was picked up unconscious by the crew of the Loch Earn. Nine days after the shipwreck Anna landed in Cardiff, Wales, and cabled Horatio, "Saved alone. What shall I do . . ."

There are many parents in church and we know how dear their children are to them. When children are sick, parents are stressed just to watch their precious ones suffering a fever, cough or ailment. I cannot imagine the pain a parent feels when a child dies. I remember over twenty years ago attending a funeral, not of an elderly person but of a child about a year old. Just a few days before, baby was warm, smiling and feeding. The cot where baby slept was still in the parent’s room, pillow, blanket and all. As the coffin was lowered, the mother launched towards the coffin and tried to prevent the burial because she was concerned that baby would be cold and wet. Imagine this scene in your mind and try and imagine the immense pain the parents, grandparents, relatives and friends felt.

Horatio and Anna Spafford lost all four daughters all at once. What a tragedy, and how can one ever recover from such a tragedy? A Christian’s reaction is different from a non-Christian’s. We can be sure that Horatio Spafford must have felt the pain in his heart when he went home and saw the evidence of his four daughters’ lives at home. Their beds now cold and not slept in, clothes unworn, their books unread and other belongings unused.

Immediately after receiving Anna\'s telegram, Horatio left Chicago to bring his wife home. The ship would take the same route of the ship that sank a few days earlier. The captain of the ship on passing over the spot where the four daughters had perished, called Horatio to his cabin to tell him that they were passing by the sunken ship. Horatio wrote to Rachel, his wife\'s half-sister, "On Thursday last we passed over the spot where she went down, in mid-ocean, the waters three miles deep. But I do not think of our dear ones there. They are safe, folded, the dear lambs." Horatio wrote the hymn that we often sing in church “It is well with my soul” as he passed over their watery grave. The original words are the same as those we sing from our hymnal –  except in line three of the first stanza where we sing “say” but the original lyrics have “know” instead. I think the original wording “know” is more meaningful even though it does not rhyme with “way” in line one.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to (know) say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Lessons from Habakkuk 3:16-18

16 When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. 17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

We can sometimes see that some adversity is about to strike us. It may be a loved one in a hospice awaiting the eventual death that comes. We are wise to prepare but with blessed hope by our Lord’s grace. Habakkuk, the prophet, looked back into the past and he believed in the great things God had done and therefore was not only confident and assured, but filled with immense joy. For a non-believer this exhilaration cannot be comprehended in the face of the tragedy that may unfold soon. Habakkuk chose to delight and in doing so claimed the promised victory in the Lord. He understood that when all is destroyed God is still there for him to enjoy forever. The fruit trees may be barren, the herds of animals are all destroyed, the enemy is drawing near making him tremble with fear but there is still that hope promised by God. Habakkuk began with much fear and trembling but ends with triumph and joy.  When we know that Jesus loves us and that God is always on the throne, it prepares us for all events that may seemingly be good or bad. Our faith in Jesus Christ as our saviour is the soothing balm for every care in this world to bravely and joyfully lift the heavy crosses of our lives, eyes fixed upon Jesus who guides us towards the hope of that beautiful heavenly crown we shall wear when we see Him in all His majesty. So then we can sing in our hearts like Horatio Spafford,  “It is well with my soul” when tragedies strike, mourning but spiritually rejoicing.

Dn David Yeo


More Lively Hope



*Kitchen Roster: Today’s Team Leader: Bro Simon Yeo. Next Lord’s Day: Dn Tony Law.

*Hope Bookstore: Open today: 12:30 - 1:45 pm

*AFG/YAF Retreat: Full & Part timers - please hand in your forms by today. For more details, please contact Dns Joyce Gong.

*Please make sure that your car is parked properly on Wattle Street.

*All worshippers are encouraged to attend either Calvinism Class or Adult Sunday School Class after fellowship lunch, and to join one of the Neighbourhood Bible Study groups - BSAG, Joy or Maranatha.

*ECM date for the second vote on the Church Constitution amendment will be announced after the next Session Meeting.

*25th Anniversary Church Magazine available on the literature table. Please help yourself to a copy

*Hard Rubbish pick up by Unley Council on Mon, 27 Aug. Help needed during working bee to bring rubbish out to street kerb.


Praise & Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies: Elder Michael & Sis Alice Lee; Mr Lucas Lee (Melb); Bros Raymond Ang (Adl/Pinnaroo), Lincoln Law (Syd) & Raphael Ng (Goolwa/Adl); & others who have arrived safely.

2. Street Evangelism yesterday. God’s protection & guidance. Bible tracts given out, & Gospel shared with people in City.

3. Church Activities in past week.

4. Healing & recovery from virus illness.

5. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

6. Visitors & new worshippers.


Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev George van Buuren; Rev & Mrs James White; Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson (Nursing Home); Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Bro Elton Law; Sisters Lynette Booth, Mabella Booth (Nursing Home), Margaret Hooper, Lai Kheng Chiong, Myung Ki, Vivian Kou (Melb), Irena Kurek-Braden (NSW), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Lehia Paauwe (Per), Susan Varadi (Nursing Home); Mr Swee Liang Ng (Bro Raphael’s father); Mr Mang Soo Ong (Sis Gillian Ong’s father); Mr Wong (Dn Wai Kin Wong’s father); Mrs Maggie D’Mello (Dn Edwin’s mother in Mumbai) & Mrs Chuilin Yap (Malacca); Mr Tony Zhang; Dn Edwin D’Mello & others in affliction & those suffering from this winter virus and influenza.

2. Cambodia Missions - Bro Sun Sokha (Phnom Penh); Khmer pastors & families in rural area.

3. Ministry in New Life BPC (London): Ps & Sis Ki.

4. Laos Missions - Bro Surish Dharmalingam & Ministry

5. Batam Missions - Sis Ang Liang Phoa & Ministry.

6. God’s Comfort - those afflicted and grieving.

7. iSketch&Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry - Pr HS Lim & Ministry (Melbourne, Vic).

8. IBPFM (USA) - Rev Keith Coleman & Board members; missionaries in India & South America.

9. Ps & Sis Weng - Ministry in Hope BPC.

10. Hopefuls in S’pore; In Kuching: Teo family.

11. House of Hope, Cebu, The Philippines - Ministry to drug addicts.

12. Journey mercies: Elder Michael & Sis Alice Lee; Mr Lucas Lee (Adl); Mr Tony & Sis May  Zhang, others who are travelling.

13. Logos International School (Phnom Penh) - Bro Peter Koo.

14. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

15. Full-time Job - Bro Chilton Chong; Sisters Michelle Lee (Melb) & Corinne Teng; & others looking for  stable jobs.

16. Unity in doctrine & fellowship of all B-P Churches

17. Wisdom & guidance - Those in authority in Government. Salvation of Government ministers.

18. Health in pregnancy - Sis Josephine Wong (Melb)

19. Believers under persecution in Islamic countries.

20. AFG-YAF Retreat Speaker: Dr Mark Lehman.

21. Moslems to know the truth & to come to salvation.



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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041