Psalm 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
It Is Well With My Soul
Author: Horatio Spafford
One of the songs we sang Sunday was, "It Is Well With My Soul," by Horatio Spafford.
It is actually one of my favorite hymns simply because the story behind when and why it was written is so beautiful. Here's the story...
Written by a Presbyterian laywer Horatio G. Spafford (1828-1888) and composed by Philip P. Bliss (1838-1876). Spafford was born on October 20, 1828 in North Troy, New York. He was a successful lawyer in Chicago who maintained a keen interest in Christian activities, deeply spiritual and devoted to the scriptures.
Sometime in 1871, a fire in Chicago heavily devastated the city, and months before that , Spafford had invested hugely in real estate by the shore of Lake Michigan. The disaster greatly wiped out his holdings. Before the fire, Spafford also experienced the loss of his son.
Two years after the fire, Horatio Spafford planned a trip to Europe for him and his family. He wanted a rest for his wife and four daughters, and also to assist Moody and Sankey in one of their evangelistic campaigns in Great Britain. He was not meant to travel with his family. The day in November they were due to depart, Spafford had a last minute business transaction and had to stay behind in Chicago. Nevertheless, he still sent his wife and four daughters to travel as scheduled on the S.S. Ville du Havre, expecting to follow in a few days. On November 22, the ship laden with his wife and daughters was struck by the Lockhearn, an English vessel, and sank in few minutes.
After the survivors were finally landed somewhere at Cardiff, Wales, Spafford's wife cabled her husband with two simple words, "Saved alone." Shortly after, Spafford left by ship on his way where his beloved four daughters had drowned, and pen at hand, wrote this most poignant text so significantly descriptive of his own personal grief – "When sorrows like sea billows roll..." The hymn "It is Well with My Soul" was born.
It is noteworthy that Horatio Spafford did not dwell on the theme of life's sorrows and trials, instead, focused in the third stanza on the redemptive work of Christ, and in the fourth verse, anticipates His glorious second coming.
This song is a wonderful example of the attitude that we should have and the importance of right perspective in all that we experience day to day - whether it be financial struggles, loss of loved ones, or even inexpressable and paralyzing sorrow in a situation that is more than just about anyone could bear (such as it was for Mr. and Mrs. Spafford). It is important that we learn as Horatio did to say, "Hallelujah Anyway!" When we can't stand to face another day, when we don't understand why we have to go through a horrifying situation, when our grief or sorrow is almost too much to bear - we need to look our circumstances in the face, and learn to praise God - not in spite of our circumstances - but in the midst of them. We must learn to say, "It is well" - even when we don't understand why it is so. God's sovereignty is bigger than our situation, God's love is bigger than our sorrow, God's mercy is greater than our failures. We can say with confidence, "It is well", when we stop focusing on our difficulties, but instead learn to focus on the One who is Lord of our circumstances.
"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."
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!
And, Lord, haste the day when my 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.