Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Found in the Aftermath

Everywhere you look this week you see news of Hurricane Sandy and now the aftermath of the storm. And I have found that some of the descriptions of life after the "Perfect Storm" I can definitely relate to. In fact, some of the headlines could be the headlines to my own life: Life After the Perfect Storm: The Aftermath. I know what it feels like to think this would never happen, to have everything lost, to live through the fire of life, and the floods that come when you least expect it. I looked up the meaning of aftermath in the dictionary and reads: "A period of time following a disaster or misfortune"... I couldn't have said it better myself. Life as I knew it is gone and I'm lost, left wondering how to go on, missing so much what I had before this storm. I wonder how long this period of time will last, I fear it is forever.

I have been reading through the gospels in the Bible this month and have seen that Jesus' disciples know a bit about life in the aftermath. The days following Jesus' death the disciples locked themselves in a room and were devastated. In fact, when Jesus met two of his disciples on the road a few days later:

             "The two followers stopped, looking very sad... They said, "About Jesus of Nazareth. He was a
               prophet who said and did many powerful things before God and all the people. Our leaders and
               the leading priests handed him over to be sentenced to death and they crucified him. But we were
               hoping that he would free Israel."                                                               Luke 24:17-21

They too were not only grieving the loss of a teacher, friend, and father, but also the loss of hopes and dreams.

Horatio Spafford, the writer of the hymn It Is Well With My Soul, and his story have been on my mind a lot this week. I had heard it before in Church growing up, but it means so much more now. The following is the story:

Horatio G. Spafford and his wife, Anna, were pretty well-known in 1860’s Chicago. And this was not just because 
of Horatio's legal career and business endeavors. The Spaffords were also prominent supporters and close friends of D.L. Moody, the famous preacher. In 1870, however, things started to go wrong. The Spaffords' only son was killed by scarlet fever at the age of four. A year later, it was fire rather than fever that struck. Horatio had invested heavily in real estate on the shores of Lake Michigan. In 1871, every one of these holdings was wiped out by the great Chicago Fire.

Aware of the toll that these disasters had taken on the family, Horatio decided to take his wife and four 

daughters on a holiday to England. And, not only did they need the rest -- DL Moody needed the help. He was 
traveling around Britain on one of his great evangelistic campaigns. Horatio and Anna planned to join Moody in late 1873. And so, the Spaffords traveled to New York in November, from where they were to catch the French steamer 'Ville de Havre' across the Atlantic. Yet just before they set sail, a last-minute business development forced Horatio to delay. Not wanting to ruin the family holiday, Spafford persuaded his family to go as planned. He would follow on later. With this decided, Anna and her four daughters sailed East to Europe while Spafford returned West to Chicago. Just nine days later, Spafford received a telegram from his wife in Wales. It read: "Saved alone."

On November 2nd 1873, the 'Ville de Havre' had collided with 'The Lochearn', an English vessel. It sank in only 
12 minutes, claiming the lives of 226 people. Anna Spafford had stood bravely on the deck, with her daughters Annie, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta clinging desperately to her. Her last memory had been of her baby being torn violently from her arms by the force of the waters. Anna was only saved from the fate of her daughters by a plank which floated beneath her unconscious body and propped her up. When the survivors of the wreck had been rescued, Mrs. Spafford's first reaction was one of complete despair. Then she heard a voice speak to her, "You were spared for a purpose." And she immediately recalled the words of a friend, "It's easy to be grateful and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God."

Upon hearing the terrible news, Horatio Spafford boarded the next ship out of New York to join his bereaved 
wife. Bertha Spafford (the fifth daughter of Horatio and Anna born later) explained that during her father's voyage, the captain of the ship had called him to the bridge. "A careful reckoning has been made", he said, "and I believe we are now passing the place where the de Havre was wrecked. The water is three miles deep." Horatio then returned to his cabin and penned the lyrics of his great hymn.

The words which Spafford wrote that day come from 2 Kings 4:26. They echo the response of the Shunammite 
woman to the sudden death of her only child. Though we are told "her soul is vexed within her", she still maintains that 'It is well." And Spafford's song reveals a man whose trust in the Lord is as unwavering as hers was.                                          (

In these stories the storms of life threaten to take away all hope with their devastation but each story encourages me that there is hope in the aftermath. Horatio's song has comforted thousands: "When sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, It is well, It is well with my Soul." And the disciples went on to reach thousands with Christ's story. A song I have loved through my storm is Aftermath by Hillsong United. The song, along with it's lyrics can be found:

When we hear the word aftermath, we think of devastation, which is one of the definitions. But there is a second definition of the word, found in the dictionary as follows: "A second crop/ New grass after mowing." And I am clinging to that definition of aftermath for my own life right now. That is my hope, that new grass of joy is springing up where the old was cut. A second crop is growing where the first is gone. And that is where we can be found... in the aftermath.


  1. Yes, Ali, you may have a "sadness" in your heart - as the followers of Jesus had - but it will be lifted by the Savior Himself. He will dry your tears and heal your broken heart and will caress your face with his loving hands and bless you, because you have trusted Him in midst of this storm.

  2. Dear Ali - I know that you don't know me, but I just want to tell you thank you for sharing your story and Quinn's legacy through this blog. My son Jake was stillborn at 37 weeks on September 27th, and the information on your blog was given to me by a friend from church. I just want you to know that your faith and your story have been an inspiration to me. As I sat down and read this for the first time I cried and cried which as you well know is nothing new when you are going through something such as this. While I wouldn't wish this pain and heartache on anyone it somehow gave me some comfort to know that somewhere not far away someone felt the same way that I do. When I read your story, and the things you talk about, it was like you were reading my mind. I have always considered my faith in God "strong", but I had NO idea what I would need to pull through this. Jake has changed my relationship with God, and I feel like perhaps that is his purpose, he can still be a light to the world by the way I live my life. I haven't felt this close to God in a long long time, and I know now that he truly has carried me the last two months. I am certain that I never knew what that really felt like or understood the phrase until Jake's death. So, I guess I just wanted to thank you for being brave enough to tell your story. You and Tim and Quinn are making a difference. While the holdiays don't sound so appealing to me this year I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. May you find peace and comfort. Quinn is a beautiful girl, and I hope she found Jake when he arrived in Heaven, and that they are playing together. May God Bless you, and thank you again, you have no idea how much you are making a difference.

    Love and Light,