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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

December 13, 2019

When you think that you have problems

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

Hymn number 207 in the Dutch hymnal, "Er is Vrede in Mijn Ziel", is also sung outside our church. Some might think that this hymn is a somewhat sentimental song of praise to God. The background of the author reveals something entirely different.

The author, Horatio Gates Spafford, lived in Chicago in the second half of the 19th century, where he worked as a lawyer and invested in real estate. But in 1871 Chicago was devastated by a massive fire. Around 300 people lose their lives and over 100,000 their homes. Horatio Gates Spafford was also a victim of this catastrophe. He loses all his capital in the fire. The properties in which he had invested no longer exist after the fire. But much worse for him is the fact that his only son dies in this inferno.

After about two years he wants to travel with his family to England and then later to other countries in Europe. But Spafford is held up by a business meeting and sends his wife and four daughters ahead by ship. However, along the way the ship collides with an English sailing ship and sinks within a very short time. His four daughters drown. His wife is one of the 47 survivors of this tragedy and Spafford immediately makes his way to her.

Horatio Gates Spafford has every reason to be bitter toward God. But despite all these terrible misfortunes that happened to him and his wife, he clings to God. Yes, he even praises him. His unshakeable faith inspired him in 1876 to write song number 207 in our hymnal.

Als stromen van vrede op mijn pad mogen zijn,
Of zorgen mij vullen met pijn;
Welk lot het ook zij, ik kan zeggen door U:
"Er ist vrede en rust diep in mij."

Remember this background next time we are asked to turn to hymn number 207 in our hymnal.

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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