Catherine Cantwell never received information on how, when, or where her husband died.
The country had been at war for only a few months when Abner Cantwell rode off to enlist in Captain Tompkins’s Texas Confederate Militia, on September 30, 1861. He would never return, nor lay eyes on his baby boy, who was born on January 31, 1862. The baby’s name was Wilson Elixander Cantwell. I know this, because Wilson was my grandmother’s grandfather.
Times were hard in Texas after the war. Deprivation was the norm of the day, and the basic concern was for food, shelter, and clothing. Therefore, death was a common experience for these isolated pioneers. Wilson’s mother died when he was just eight years old, and her death was followed by the death of his best friend. He was killed by the Comanche Indians on his way to school. Fortunately for Wilson, he escaped the attack and headed North on a cattle drive to Kansas.
Years later, after enduring long hours in the saddle, Wilson married a widow, Amie Kuykendall Guffee. They had four children and returned to Texas in 1884. This young family settled in old Greer County (now Oklahoma) to farm a one hundred and sixty acre homestead near his former employer. This move caused a ruckus, for the former boss claimed that Wilson was squatting on his open range. Furthermore, he had no right to fence it off with barbed wire. Wilson responded by telling the cowboy to shut the gate on his way off of his property. This angered the cattleman, and he reacted by pulling his gun and shooting Wilson through the lung. As he collapsed, the assailant simply rode away. The victim was then loaded into a wagon, and the entire family set off on a forty-five mile journey to find a doctor. Wilson survived to recuperate, but during the bedlam, Amie had a miscarriage and lost her fifth child.
If you study the history of mankind, you will see that suffering has always been a part man’s existence. Every generation has a suffering story to tell, and this begs us to ask an age-old question. It is easy to understand why sinful living brings about suffering, but why do bad things happen to good people?
Sometimes folks want to place the blame on the person who is doing the suffering. This reaction is revealed when we read the story of Jesus healing the blind man (John 9:1-3). It was a misconception by Jesus’ own disciples that either this man or his parents had sinned, but Jesus taught that the blindness had occurred so that God would be displayed in the man’s life.
Likewise, some see suffering as a time of despair, but it is a time to identify with Christ. Peter explained this to the Christians living in Asia Minor (1 Peter 1:3-12). Paul explained it to the church in Rome (Romans 5:1-11), and James to the Christians scattered among the nations (James 1:2-12).
Rejoice when you suffer, for suffering brings praise, glory, and honor to Christ! Christian, are you up for the task?
“Living by faith, in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arm,
I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.” James Wells