A Reflection of Christmas Past
Far to the north in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow reflected on the days of Christmas past. The tragic death of his wife, Fanny, in the summer of 1861 brought grievous memories. Fanny dropped a match on her summer dress and it burst into flames. Henry tried to extinguish the flames with a small rug but failed causing him to sustain serious burns on his face, arms, and hands.
The coming of the holiday season in the Longfellow house became a time of sorrow. He tried to provide a happy time for the children left at home but was quoted as saying, “A ‘merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.” His oldest son, Charlie, joined the Union Army during the Civil War against his father’s wishes. Charley later came down with typhoid fever and malaria and was sent home to recover. He did not rejoin his unit until after the Gettysburg battle of 1863.
At the Battle of New Hope Church, the young Lt. Longfellow sustained serious disabling injuries. The following spring, Longfellow’s lifelong friend Nathaniel Hawthorne passed away unexpectedly in his sleep. These had been difficult times for the poet; but sometimes it is only through our adversity that hope makes itself known to us.
The Civil War brought wounds to the heart and minds of the American people and they were in need of hope through their long journey to recovery. In Longfellow’s plight for peace and joy, he penned these words that touched the spirit and soul of a war torn nation.
“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With Peace on earth, good will to men.”
Perhaps you have struggled in times of deep despair, remember the words Longfellow composed, “God is not dead, nor does He sleep.” Trusting God with all things will give you the hope you so long for and the peace you desire (Romans 15:13).
Lord, may I abound in Your hope.