April 22, 2020 God's Love in Difficult Times - Father Michael's Words to Live By

“Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose

their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39)


In the year 1873, Horatio Spafford, a Christian lawyer from Chicago, placed his wife and four children on the luxury line Ville de Havre sailing from New York to France.  Spafford expected to join them in about three or four weeks after finishing up some business, but with the exception of his wife he never saw them again.  

The trip started out beautifully.  But on the evening of November 21, 1873, as the Ville de Havre proceeded peacefully across the Atlantic, the ship was suddenly struck by another vessel, the Lochearn, and sank a mere thirty minutes later, with the loss of nearly all on board.

On being told that the ship was sinking, Mrs. Spafford knelt with her children and prayed that they might be saved, if such was God’s will.  A few minutes later, in the confusion, three of the children were swept away by the waves while she stood clutching the youngest.  Suddenly the youngest child was swept from her arms.  Mrs. Spafford became unconscious and awoke later to find that she had been rescued by sailors from the Lochearn.  But the four children were gone.  

Back in the United States, Horatio Spafford waited for news of his family, and at last, ten days later (after the rescue ship had reached Cardiff), it came.  “Saved alone” was his wife’s message.  That night he walked the floor of his rooms in anguish, as anyone would have done.  But this was not all.  For as he shared his loss with His Lord, a loss which could not be reversed in this life, he found, as many have, that peace which indeed passes all understanding. 

Toward morning he told a friend named Major Whittle, “I am glad to be able to trust my Lord when it costs me something.”  Then, later, as he reflected on the disaster at sea, he wrote this hymn:


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.


Thought 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.


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, Oh, my soul!


And, Lord, haste the day when the 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.



There are many contradictions in our lives – such as being at home while feeling homeless; being busy while feeling bored; being popular while feeling lonely; being believers while feeling many doubts.  Such contradictions can frustrate, irritate, and even discourage us. They make us feel that we are never fully present. Every door that opens for us makes us see how many more doors are closed.  But there is another response. These same contradictions can bring us into touch with a deeper longing for the fulfillment of a desire that lives beneath all desires and that only God can satisfy. Contradictions, thus understood, create the friction that can help us move toward God. 

~ Henri Nouwen  {Bread for the Journey}

PRAYER FOR TODAYLord, enable us to confront life’s contradictions and find peace and solace in these difficult times through the love and grace of God’s embrace.  Amen.


Fr. Michael+