Overcomers: Saved Alone. What Shall I Do?

Horatio and Anna Spafford

Horatio and Anna Spafford

All the world is full of suffering.
It is also full of overcoming.
Helen Keller

In the 1860s, Horatio and Anna Spafford lived in Chicago with their five children, Annie, Maggie, Bessie, Tanetta, and Horatio Jr.

Horatio was a successful lawyer, real estate tycoon, philanthropist, and well connected in his community – offering his home as a regular meeting place for activist movements.  Though the family was devout Presbyterian, popular evangelist speaker, Dwight L. Moody, was a good friend.

By 19th century standards, the Spaffords lived the idyllic life.  Well, that is until 1870 when their only son, 4-year-old Horatio Jr., died of scarlet fever.

While still reeling from that loss, Chicago’s Great Fire destroyed much of Spafford’s real estate holdings.  The financial blow was devastating.  But they considered themselves blessed.  Their home was spared and they still had their family.

Others weren’t so lucky.  Hundreds died in the Chicago fire, and thousands were left homeless.  So the Spaffords opened their home and used what assets they had left to feed the hungry, care for the sick and injured, and help the needy.

Within three years Anna Spafford’s health was failing, and perhaps in hopes of easing the pain of recent tragedies, the Spaffords decided to sail to Europe and join some friends in England, where Moody would be preaching.

Spafford Kids

Annie, Maggie, Bessie, and Tanetta Spafford

The ship was due to sail in November, but Horatio was suddenly detained on business and persuaded Anna and the girls to go on ahead.  He would soon follow.

Then the unthinkable happened. Continue reading

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