Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet who lived in the 1800’s. He was no stranger to pain. His first wife died during a miscarriage. He married again almost ten years later. He had six children with her. Not long after the Civil War began, his wife was cutting their seven year old’s hair and decided to preserve some curls in wax. The wax drilled onto her dress and she caught fire. He tried to help put it out, but sustained severe burns himself. She passed away the next day. Not long after, their son joined the army to fight in the war. Henry was devastated by it all and quit writing poetry.
That first Christmas afterwards, he wrote in his journal how sad all holidays were. The next year he wrote,, “I can leave no record of these days. Better to leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps God can give me peace.” The following year he didn’t write anything. The next November he found out his son had been shot and was severely wounded, possibly mortally. When his son arrived home, it wasn’t as bad as he feared. That Christmas he penned a poem which became the carol, “I heard The Bells of Christmas”. God was able to bring him through such tragedy and increase his effectiveness as a poet and writer.
2 Corinthians 1:4 says, “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (NLT). The holidays are not happy for everyone. Many have endured loss and suffering and are in need of God’s peace and comfort. You and I have that ability to be agents of comfort, healing and peace during this season. If you’re struggling this season, I want to leave you with my favorite lines from his poem. It says, “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep. The wrong shall fail, the right prevail with peace on earth, goodwill to men.” He can make all things work together for good.
If you’d like to listen to my favorite version of this carol, click here.