Wednesday, September 23, 2015
One of the most beautiful hymns of the faith, “It Is Well With My Soul”, has comforted the hearts of millions of God’s people for over a hundred years. Ironically, it was written in a time of deep personal sadness by it’s author, Horatio Spafford. Mr. Spafford, a wealthy lawyer and devout Christian, endured a substantial financial loss in the great Chicago fire of 1873. If that was not enough, his only son died around the same time. (he had four daughters) Despite his personal losses, Spafford worked for two years helping the impoverished, homeless, and grief-stricken people of Chicago and in 1873, he decided to take his wife and daughters on a vacation to England where He would join Dwight L. Moody and Ira Sankey on one of their evangelistic campaigns. (Though not as well known as Moody, if you have an old time hymnbook you will see the name, Ira Sankey, quite a bit) Due to some unexpected business, Spafford had to stay behind on the day of the ship’s departure and planned to sail at a later time to meet up with his family. That never became a reality because his daughters all died in a shipwreck and Spafford was not aware of the tragedy until his wife finally arrived in England and sent a two-word telegraph which read “saved alone.” Later, when the grief-stricken Spafford sailed to England, he was made aware of the very spot where his daughters perished and that is where he penned the words, [“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.”] Like millions upon millions of God’s people throughout the ages, Spafford too had learned the secret the Apostle Paul spoke about in Philippians 4:11where he wrote, “For I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
In the midst of tragedy and heartache, Spafford found the grace and strength to turn his calamities into a sincere expression of praise and thanksgiving to God. Because of it, even today many of God’s children find strength and comfort in the words of that wonderful hymn.
If you are going through a time of great testing or are still hurting inside because of a past tragedy, take heart. Jesus knows all about it. In fact, He knows even better than you what you are going through. Can He relate? Absolutely! In fact, even before He came into the world, the prophet, Isaiah wrote that He would be “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”(Isa.53:3) And though He never promised us a bed of roses, He did promise to be with us until the end. If you are walking through a seemingly lonely road, may I remind you that you are not walking it alone? Just yesterday morning, the first thing I heard when I turned on the radio was someone singing “Your world’s not falling apart; it’s falling into place.” I have come to believe that, in Christ, the deeper the hurt, the greater the joy afterwards. Why? Simply because He specializes in turning our sorrows into joy.
Memory verse for the week: (Matthew 9:36) “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”