The stampeding hooves of war horses could be heard outside the thin, boarded walls of the Crawford farm house. Inside, two young brothers, thirteen and sixteen, cowered behind the furniture, frighteningly peering out at the soldiers through the tiny gaps in the walls. When Colonel Davie had sounded the retreat, these boys had sprinted through the woods to their cousin’s house with the hope of being out of sight before the British Dragoons could spot them, but they had failed. Immediately, the troops had surrounded the little farm house. And now the officer in charge of the dragoons shouted at the house, “Come out of the house!!” “If you don’t come out, we’ll burn it to the ground!”
At this, Andrew and his older brother Robert appeared at the farmhouse door. When they emerged from the house, two soldiers on either side of the door grabbed the boys, subdued them, and bound them. The forty mile journey on foot as prisoners of war was grueling, but that journey was just a glimpse of the horror that these boys would find in the cholera and smallpox infested prison camp that awaited them.
Elizabeth Jackson was already grieving the death of her eldest son, when a message detailing the horrifying capture of Andy and Robert reached her. Knowing full-well that prisoners did not last long in the prison camps, she departed immediately to negotiate for the release of her two remaining sons. She loved her sons, and would risk her own life for their safety. With confidence, this fair-haired Irish lady challenged the British commander for the release of her two sons. These were her children, and she loved them. She loved them more than her own life.
When we read of Paul’s love for the Thessalonian believers, we see that he loved them as a mother loves her own children (ch.2,v.7). It broke his heart to hear of the persecution and affliction that they were enduring, and would have given his own life if it meant saving them from this injustice. This is the care and compassion that Christians should have for one another. This is the self-sacrificing love of John 15:13 that Jesus lived out for us, and this is the love that John 13:35 tells us we should live out for one another. Paul loved the believers at Thessalonica, and we should love one another.
Although Robert would eventually succumb to the devastating effects of the smallpox, Andrew Jackson made a full recovery through the nurture and care of a self-sacrificial mother. Nearly five decades later, an entire nation would more fully appreciate the enduring, self-exhausting care of a mother when Andrew Jackson was elected to be the seventh President of the United States.
It is the call of true believers to love one another in this way. Through the hard and difficult circumstances of life, may we choke up to the bit and endure. With a pure love that withstands the attacks of the enemy, may we press on, that others might be helped, and that God might be glorified.
Food For Thought: Read John 13:35 and John 15:13. What two things do we learn from Jesus in these two passages?