Read Psalm 42
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1 NLT).
One of my favorite Christian hymns is It is Well With My Soul, written by American Lawyer and Presbyterian Church Elder Horatio G. Spafford. The story behind the hymn, at least the direct reason for it being written, is pretty well-known. Spafford was a lawyer and senior partner in a large law firm who was also friends with Dwight L. Moody who was a substantial and well-known evangelist who was the founder of the Moody Bible Institute. Spafford had also made substantial real estate investments north of Chicago in the Spring of 1871, but in October of that same year most of those investments were lost in the Great Fire of Chicago. That terrible event destroyed the city leaving nothing but ash in its wake.
Two years later, the Spafford family planned a vacation in England where their friend Dwight Moody would be preaching; however, Horatio was unable to join them due to business issues that arose that kept him from going. On the way across the Atlantic, the ship that Anne Spafford (Horatio’s wife) and their daughters were on was hit by an iron sailing vessel and killing 226 people including Horatio and Anne’s daughters, Annie (12 yrs old), Maggie (7 yrs old), Bessie (4 yrs old), and their 18-month old baby. Anne Spafford, Horatio’s wife, was the only survivor of the family members on the ship.
Things were not okay for Horatio or Anne in that moment or, I am sure, for a long time after. Things were were not well for them. This is not how things are supposed to be. Children aren’t supposed to die before their parents, let alone in such a horrible way. Mothers aren’t supposed to survive while their children die. I can only imagine the depths of despair that Anne and Horatio were both going through. The worst thing that could happen to parents had just happened to them.
On the way over across the Atlantic to meet his wife, Horatio penned these words:
When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know, It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, (it is well), with my soul, (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 has 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, O 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, a song in the night, oh my soul!
Even when it was not well with his soul, Horatio still penned those words: “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.” Even when it was not well with his soul, Horatio knew that it WOULD be well with his soul, because Christ would not abandon him or his wife in that tragedy.
The truth is, Christ will not abandon us either, even when things are not well with our soul. As the hymn boasts in the face of such tragedy, Christ has regarded our helpless estate and has shed his own blood for our souls. He is not giving up on us even when we feel like giving up. Let all of us who suffer, who feel Satan and trials are surrounding us on all sides, never forget that Christ is Immanuel, God with us, and he will get us through all circumstances if we but put our faith in him.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“You can survive the storm. Your soul is stronger than the storm.” – Lailah Gifty Akita
Lord, even when it is not well with my soul, I know you are with me and that you WILL NOT abandon me. Amen.