Over the past year, I’ve experienced a lot of turmoil and suffering in my life, as have many others in the world.  At times I felt overwhelmed, helpless, and even defeated.  I was so frustrated that these painful events were occurring as I was trying to create something special and important- namely, the TOJACATE movement.  How could I focus on doing something productive and positive, when I needed every ounce of my energy just get through the day?

Then not long ago, I heard the story of Horatio Gates Spafford, who overcame extreme suffering and still managed to accomplish great things. Horatio was a very successful lawyer in Chicago in the 1860’s, with great wealth and standing in the community, a devoted wife and four daughters.  For a period of time, life was as good as it gets for Horatio and his family.  Then began a series of tragedies:

  • In 1870, his 4-year old son died of scarlet fever.
  • In 1871, his real estate investments were reduced to ashes with the Great Chicago Fire, wiping out most of his fortune.
  • In 1873, all four of Horatio’s daughters perished in a shipwreck while crossing the Atlantic.
  • In 1880, his 2nd son died at the age of 4 from pneumonia.

Following the Chicago fire, and despite their depleted resources, the Spaffords spent two years helping those impacted by the fire who needed food, clothing and housing.  After the loss of his four daughters at sea, Horatio wrote the lyrics to the famous hymn, “It is Well with my Soul”.  In the wake of the death of his second son, Horatio and his wife moved to Jerusalem and started the “American Colony” to provide help to those in need.

So I am humbled and encouraged, and am striving to be able to say…

“When sorrows like sea billows roll…it is well, it is well, with my soul.”

                                                                                                            Horatio G. Spafford