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Two weeks ago at one of our worship services at NYTS I listened as a quartet sang Horatio Spafford’s great hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul.” The opening verse of his composition struck me that morning in a fresh way with its depth of meaning:
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Little would I know at the time what sea billows would soon be rolling through our lives at NYTS in the form of Hurricane Sandy that struck this past week. Many of us saw first hand the billows pouring in to coastal areas of New York and New Jersey in the form of a storm surge. Almost all of us felt the fierce power of the wind and rain as the storm passed through. Some are still living with damages and flooding. To all who suffered immediate loss and who continue to suffer in the aftermath of this storm, please know that our prayers go out for you. To all who opened their churches as places of refuge, have kept a generator going to help others, or have joined in one of the many relief efforts that are under way, thank you for once again manifesting the love of God in the midst of crisis.
Five days after the storm we are still reeling. Many of us continue to be without power. Transportation throughout the region remains limited. Lines of cars waiting to get gas on the Garden State Parkway stretch for three hours or more (I know – I was in one of them this week). An enormous number of us are still without internet access (hampering communication and class work at NYTS significantly)!
To the entire NYTS community, know that this is not the last word. We will soon be back up and on our feet. Classes will soon continue. Faculty will have email back in service. Those who have lost property will begin to rebuild. Churches that have been damaged will begin to repair. There will be more peaceful times in our lives again soon.
But we should know as well that this coming peace will not be the last word, at least for a time. There will no doubt again be further storms and trials to come in our lives. As the hymn makes clear, in the end the last word belongs to God, and that is what makes it possible for us to say that no matter what our lot might be, it is well, it is well with our souls.
May God indeed bless us in such a way,
Dale T. Irvin