As a popular speaker in the nineteenth century, Stephen Haskell traveled the world to exotic locales. Because of his wife’s frail health, she was not able to keep up with the demands of his life’s work. Still, despite a life full of suffering and illness, she had always been his cheerful supporter. They had fallen in love when Stephen worked for Mary’s father on a farm in New England. She had always been a delicate woman, yet Haskell cared for and loved her deeply through the years.
On January 29, 1894, Mary Haskell passed away.
A Supernatural Experience
Haskell missed his wife profoundly. At first he was glad to know she was no longer suffering, but then he would feel overwhelmingly lonely without her. He shared, “Even when separated by my traveling, I always had known that she was thinking of me and praying for me. Now I felt all alone in the world.”
One night, having felt especially lonely for several days, Haskell drifted off to sleep. “I had not been asleep long when I was awakened by a light in the room.” When he opened his eyes, he saw a dark form standing by his bed.
A voice spoke to him, saying, “Stephen, I have come to bring you comfort. I shall ever watch over you to comfort you, for I am nearer to you now than when I lived on earth.” The voice was that of Mary, natural and sweet, just as he remembered it.
Haskell’s gut reaction was to “reach out my arms to her.” But in that very moment, a verse from the Bible came to his mind. “The living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5). Stephen pulled away from the figure in fear. But the voice persisted with tenderness, “O Stephen, don’t you know me?”
Haskell felt lost in a whirlwind of questions. Wasn’t this the voice of his beloved wife? Hadn’t she come down from heaven to visit and encourage him? Wasn’t this an answer to his prayers? (After all, doesn’t the Bible speak of the spirits of our dead loved ones living on?) Hadn’t many others described similar experiences with ghosts? How does a person know for sure if such a spirit is genuine?
What Would You Do?
Many, like Haskell, want to know the truth about ghosts. They have wondered where to find solid answers to questions about the spirits of the dead. Movies, novels, and tabloids offer cheap insight about ghosts, but some documentaries report that encounters with the dead are genuine. Books abound with detailed material about ghosts.
If you were visited by the spirit of a dead relative, how would you respond?
Here’s what Stephen Haskell did: “I gathered all my strength, and answered boldly, ‘No! I never knew you! You are not my Mary. You are an evil spirit sent by Satan to deceive me; and, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command you to depart, and to trouble me no more.’ ”
Suddenly, the face that had once showed kindness became filled with rage. Haskell says that the anger in that look was worse than in pictures of demons. The spirit departed, but it left Haskell shaken.
“How common is Haskell’s experience? Has a deceased relative appeared to you? Is it always an evil spirit when this happens? What is the history of ghosts?” You deserve to know the truth.