Catharine duBois, my great-great grandmother to the eighth great, never heard of crisis management. But if she had not honored the Lord in the greatest crisis of her life, I would not be here today.

One day in 1663, Minnisink Indians swept down from the Catskill Mountains, killed several inhabitants of the little settlement now known as New Paltz, New York, and took a number of women and children captive. Among them were Catharine duBois and her infant daughter, Sara. For ten weeks they were held captive in the mountains, while search parties looked for them in vain.

Certain they had avoided reprisal, the Indians decided to celebrate their success by burning Catharine and Sara. A cubical pile of logs was arranged, upon which the bound mother and daughter were placed. When the Indians lit the torch to ignite the logs, all of Catharine’s decendants were about to be annihilated with her.

How we die is a profound reflection of how we live. A life-threatening crisis somehow distills all our theology into a single pungent drop.

A most human response at that moment would have been for Catharine to scream at her tormentors, curse them for her suffering, or even curse God (as Job’s wife advised him in his life-threatening crisis; Job 2:9).

Instead, she burst into song, turning the foreboding Catskill forest into a cathedral of praise with a Huguenot hymn she had learned in France. The words were from Psalm 137, “There our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’ ” (v. 3, NIV).

The Minnisink Indians, of course, had not asked her for a song, but they were now so captivated with Catharine’s singing that they demanded another song, then another, and then still another. ...

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