Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | November 27, 2019

Tragedy, Rescue, & Thanks

(3 Minute Read)
Death on Lake Michigan

In early morning hours long before light, the steamship Lady Elgin sank in the stormy and frigid waters of Lake Michigan. Over 300 passengers and crew, including the captain, died on September 8, 1860. It is the greatest loss of life ever for a shipwreck on the Great Lakes.

The Augusta Collides with the Lady Elgin
Painting by artist Gary Sheahan
Presented to the Winnetka Historical Society in 1950

The Lady Elgin was returning to Milwaukee carrying passengers from a trip to Chicago to hear a campaign speech by Senator Stephen Douglas (1813–1861), Abraham Lincoln‘s Democratic opponent in the 1860 presidential election. Proceeding through a gale on Lake Michigan, the Lady Elgin was rammed amidships by the overloaded lumber schooner Augusta, an unlit sailing ship.

Captain Wilson desperately tried to plug the hole with mattresses stripped from bunks. Then he ordered 200 head of cattle and cargo to be jettisoned in order to raise the portside hole above water level. But within half an hour the Lady Elgin broke apart and sank. Only 98 people were saved via two lifeboats and floating wreckage. A drummer saved himself using his large bass drum as a life preserver.

Hero Edward Spencer

A young seminary student battled the stormy waves for six hours to save 17 people. With a rope tied to his waist, Edward Wilson Spencer (1835-1917), an experienced swimmer and lifeguard, braved the cold waves time after time to tow people to safety. Eventually he collapsed, covered with cuts and bruises. He never fully recovered and remained a semi-invalid for the rest of his life.

A plaque memorializing Edward Spencer’s heroic action is in the library of Northwestern University where he was a student. Due to the injuries he suffered in his lifesaving efforts he had to withdraw from the university and never entered the ministry.

Years later the renowned evangelist R. A. Torrey (1856–1928) was describing the Lady Elgin shipwreck for a sermon illustration when he was informed that Spencer was in the audience. He invited the old man to the stage and asked him what he remembered from the event. The white-haired man’s reply was shocking:

“Only this, sir. Of the seventeen people I saved, not one of them ever thanked me.”

Why did none of those saved ever thank their savior?

Futile Thankfulness

Expressing Thanks

Edward Spencer’s experience with ingratitude reminded me of the occasion when Jesus healed 10 lepers (Luke 17:11-19). On that occasion only one of the ten returned to thank Jesus for his cleansing from leprosy.

Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine — where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:15-18)

Clearly Jesus considered thanks the appropriate response and wondered at the ingratitude of the nine healed lepers who failed to thank Him.

Thankfulness is a crucial aspect of Biblical faith. Failure to give thanks leads to darkening of the heart and separation from God.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Romans 1:20-21)

Believers should be marked by a continual attitude of thankfulness — all the time, not just at Thanksgiving. We owe thanks to God and to fellow human beings.
In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Psalm 100 teaches that everyone (“all the earth“) should audibly thank and praise God with vigorous enthusiasm.
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.
(Psalm 100)

The opposite of thankfulness is complaining. It has no place in the life of a Christian.

Another “opposite behavior” that gets in the way of being thankful, according to Scripture, is coarse talk, vulgar humor, and silly chatter.
There must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. (Ephesians 5:4)

May we all purge our unclean lips and offer thanks and praise to our Maker and fellow man.

BSG Blog Update

This is my 700th blog post. I started this blog on October 1, 2007 and have averaged posting an article a little oftener than once a week ever since (700 blog posts in 635 weeks).
Click BSG Contents for a complete list of Bible-Science Guy Blog articles. Most of them are as applicable now as the day they were written.
Click Best of Bible-Science Guy for lists of the best Bible-Science Guy posts of each year.

Questions to Ponder

1. Is there someone to whom you owe unexpressed thanks?
2. Why is it sometimes hard to thank someone?
3. Why is it so easy to complain?

Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

For Christ and His Kingdom. Soli Deo Gloria.

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday November 27, 2019 A.D.

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

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  1. Dear Bible Science Guy – I must register my thanks this time at least, because on each occasion when I receive your posts I find I am either challenged, amused, humbled, informed, perplexed (puzzles), or /and happy!!
    I so much appreciate your words and spirit.
    If only Kepler could be PM. of the UK!! We are in a very difficult time, and the outcome isn’t hopeful, BUT we look to Him who is our help in time of need, the One who neither slumbers or sleeps. Praise His wonderful name! For He is GOOD.

    Thank you and shalom,
    Gwen Staveley


    • Thank you, Gwen, for your very encouraging and kind words. I appreciate them. I’m glad Yahweh uses the BSG blog to bless you.

      Kepler says, “Thank you,” for your confidence in him. He wishes you could vote for Kepler for President. He says you need a PM to lead and defend Christian liberty just as our President Trump does.


  2. Thank you Lord for your loving kindness and mercy towards us. Praise Your Name forever.


  3. Bill: Very good… well said… very poignant.  Thank you,Mike


  4. Bill,
    Excellent BSG blog this morning. I learned long ago, one of the few things that most hurts me, and must hurt God many magnitudes higher, is when someone overlooks, dismisses, takes advantage of, or comes to expect repeated instances of a true act of grace towards them on my part. Sadly, the effect upon me, besides the hurt, is to withhold future acts of grace towards them. Thank you for faithfully remaining diligent to apply your God-given skills to bless His church to His glory; and of course, thank God for sovereignly working all things together for the good for His elect … always.


    • Thanks for your insightful thoughts and encouraging words, John. I appreciate them and you.


  5. Thank you Bible Science Guy for your inspirational emails, especially the creation evidence posts. In a dark world it’s hard to keep my mind thinking logically. When people not thinking logically or speaking logically are most prominent it makes us Christians wonder about our own mental stability. Thank you for your faithfulness.

    Always, truly, Janet Trust Jesus, Read the Bible, Do what He says.. Matthew 7:24


    • Thanks for reading and for your encouraging comment. I appreciate it.


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