I love the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul.” Partly because the story behind the song is so sad.
I know, that probably doesn’t make sense. I hate sad movies, sad books, sad songs. But although the story itself is sad, the hymn is one of triumph and even hope.
It was written by a man named Horatio Spafford, who started the song while staring into the depths of the Atlantic where his 4 daughters had drowned when the ship they were on with their mother collided with another. The mother was saved alone. But before his 4 daughters died, Horatio had already lost his only son after a terrible battle with an illness, and then the Great Chicago fire destroyed his financial security. Hoping to allow his family time to heal and rest, he sent them on ahead across the Atlantic on a trip. It was then the terrible collision occurred and his four daughters joined their brother in eternity.
When peace like a river attendeth my way. When sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say “It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
Did you know that by the end of his life, Horatio Spafford went insane? One can almost understand why.
I found it interesting to learn that originally Horatio penned the first verse 3rd line with these words “whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to know ‘it is well with my soul.’” Since then the line has been changed to say “whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say ‘it is well with my soul.’” As to the difference – I wonder if at the moment Horatio couldn’t really “say” out loud “it is well with my soul” but, what if instead he was putting feet to his faith, and trusting in the fact that one day God would make it well with his soul.
There are times in life when saying what you know is true seems almost impossible. It’s just too hard to admit that God is good and in control at this moment. Fine, don’t say it. But can you at least acknowledge the truth that one day God will bring you to the place where you can again say “it is well with my soul.”
The last verse ends with the phrase – “even so… it is well with my soul.” Did you know that refers to the 2nd to last verse in the Bible that says “even so come Lord Jesus come.” It is very probable Horatio fully believed and knew his 5 children were already with Jesus. Is it any wonder his desire was to hurry the 2nd coming?
Believer, may we be honest enough to admit we don’t have all the answers and we don’t always understand why did this thing have to happen. All too often life is just hard and we can’t always point to a reason why. But may we also never forget the truth that in the midst of the pain there is a God who hears every cry, sees every tear, and who still holds your life secure. He is a faithful and good God.
And one day, He will make it well with your soul.