It is Well with My Soul

One of my favorite hymns was penned by Horatio Spafford in 1873.  You probably know the story…a prominent and wealthy Christian businessman, with friends like Dwight L. Moody and Ira Sankey, Mr. Spafford lived in Chicago with his wife, four daughters, and young son.  When he was at the top of his career, tragedy struck when his young son died.  In 1871, the Chicago Fire then destroyed almost every real estate investment that he owned.  In 1873, to give his wife and daughters some much needed vacation time and so that he could participate in an evangelistic campaign with his friends Moody and Sankey in England, Spafford booked a boat trip across “the pond”.  When last minute business came up, he sent his family on ahead of him.  Several days later, he received a cable from his wife stating, “Saved alone.”  His family’s ship had collided with another ship and sank within minutes.  His four daughters had perished.

At some point after this tragic event, Spafford penned the words to the well known hymn, It is Well with My Soul.  One story reports that he wrote it while passing over the very spot where his four daughters perished when their boat sank, while another claims he wrote it two years later when Moody and Sankey were visiting his home.  Regardless of when he wrote the lyrics to this beautiful, hymn, its message has resonated over the last century and more.  I share it with you in its entirety:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

[Chorus] It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin–oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!–
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel!  Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

In the uncertain days in which we are living, it is very easy to lose sight of the big picture and focus only on the tragedies which daily seem to bombard Facebook, the news, and our inboxes.  A few weeks ago, for various reasons including world and national events, I was beginning to feel very anxious; I could not sleep and I knew from past experience that depression was next if I did not get my anxiety under control.  I elicited the life-giving help of various friends who lifted my arms in prayer when I could not, and I wrote out various verses regarding peace and hope, including all of Psalm 40.  By God’s grace, He gave me peace and I was able to rest again after almost a week of sleeplessness.

From sharing my experience with others, I soon realized that I was not alone.  Collectively, our nation, including many within the Body of Christ, are feeling the strain of recent events and an uncertain future.  Fear and anxiety are crippling, and nothing would please our enemy more than to paralyze believers in Jesus Christ when the unsaved around us need us the most.  It was this thought that made me fight back so hard with Scripture and prayer.  And I couldn’t help but think of Horatio Spafford and the truth of the hymn he wrote, a product of tragedy and loss, but filled with the hope of a time when all will be made right and we will have blessed rest for our souls.  Let us not grow weary in well doing in these days of uncertainty and unrest, my friends.  Pray hard, and cling to the One who makes it well with your soul.

Even so, it is well with my soul.


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