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The Disaster of the Ville du Havre

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It is well, it is well with my soul, part 2

Heb 6:19-20 "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf." NIV

All was peaceful that evening. The ocean was smooth, and hardly any wind could be felt. The sunrise was one of the most gorgeous ones of the season. Anna Spafford had put her four, excited little girls to bed. Soon they would be reaching their destination: France, and sleep was far from their minds. Little Tanetta sang "In the Sweet Bye and Bye" over and over again. But finally they were all asleep, and Anna, feeling relieved, also went to bed. She had no way of knowing this would be their last night together . . .

Around two in the morning, the cruiser was violently shaken as a horrendous noise woke everyone up. Confused, most passengers went on deck, only to discover that an English ship, the Lochearn, had collided with the Ville du Havre. The captain assured them that all was fine; but in reality the cruiser had been nearly broken in two, and it didn't take them long to realize that they were sinking fast. Commotion and chaos overtook them. They started grabbing life preservers and trying to push lifeboats into the water. Unfortunately, these had recently been painted, and they were now stuck fast to the deck. Finally a few of them were yanked loose, and passengers fought desperately to be one of the few travelers to board those rescue boats.

Anna Spafford decided it would be wrong to push others aside in order to save her daughters and herself, and she watched desperately as the boats were lowered into the ocean. To her horror, several masts fell over and crushed the few lifeboats to pieces, knocking their inhabitants to their death in the freezing water. Had she fought for her rights, she, too, might have died.

As the remainder passengers helplessly watched the water rise higher and higher, Anna's daughter, Maggie, who had been screaming ever since the collision, suddenly stopped. "God will take care of us!" she said confidently.

The ship soon collapsed into the ocean, creating a huge whirlpool. The passengers were drawn down into the freezing water. Anna clung to one of her daughters with all the power she could muster, but the force of the water wrenched her child away. She tried to find her again in the tumultuous waters and successfully located the edge of her nightgown, only to lose her again for good. A kind passenger had tried to help two of her other daughters. They had almost reached a lifeboat when both children lost their grip on their rescuer and sank into the void.

When Anna discovered she had lost all four of her children, she had to be physically restrained from throwing herself into the ocean. She was later quoted as saying: "I wanted to die! I wanted to follow my dear ones! I could not live without them! But God told me, 'You are spared for a purpose. You have work to do.'"

How hard it was to return to her home in Lakeview with her husband, to see the ice skates and sleds, the four pairs of rubber boots neatly positioned against one wall, and all the other things that would remind them for years of their loss. However, during their ordeal, they had peace in their heart because they could sense the presence of their loving Heavenly Father. They knew God was sustaining them, and they rejoiced with the thought that their little girls were now in heaven. God, himself was caring for them! They couldn't be in better hands! Praises filled their lips and they both started to reach out to less fortunate than them, bringing the Good News message of the gospel in Chicago and later on to Muslims living in the Holy Land. They founded the American Colony in Jerusalem, which continues today to minister to the poor and friendless in Jerusalem.

My friend, we are never hopeless with God at our side. Trials may seem unconquerable, but when we rely on our friend Jesus who promised Matt 28:20 "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age", we will be filled with inner peace and our forever friend Himself will hand us the solution.

God has a special task for you to do. Don't feel like you are worthless! Jer 1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart." NIV He has great plans for you. Talk to Him and find out how important you are in His eyes! He loves you and will guide you, if you just let Him.

"God will take care of us!" said Maggie, and He sure did! Will you let Him take care of you as well?

Rob Chaffart

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