The time trapped in my car during the 30 minute commute to and from work has become God’s time for me. When I have something troubling me, or a friend has asked for prayers about one of her concerns, I spend that time praying. Frequently I use that time to listen to sermons, either by my own pastor, or a couple others who have become favorite teachers. Still other days I spend the time in silence, listening for direction and answers to prayer.
Recently I was listening to a sermon titled “Holiness” by Alistair Begg. In the message he shared the story behind one of my favorite hymns, It Is Well with My Soul, written by Horatio Spafford in 1873. As he shared the story, I couldn’t hold the tears back … such an overwhelming tragedy and yet it resulted in a hymn that speaks to the hearts of many more than 140 years later.
In 1871 the Spafford’s only son died from pneumonia and shortly after they lost most of their business to the great Chicago fire. A few years later, Spafford’s wife and four daughters began a trip to Europe on the ocean liner Ville du Havre. In a terrible storm, their ship collided with another, and 226 passengers, including the Spafford children, were lost at sea. His wife was rescued and when she arrived in Wales sent a telegram to her husband that said simply, “Saved alone, what shall I do?” Of course Spafford left immediately to be with his wife. The ship on which he sailed followed the same path as the Ville du Havre, and when they came to the spot where she went down, stopped for a brief time to honor the lost.
As I listened, I tried to imagine how I would’ve felt, what I would’ve done, if I had been in Spafford’s shoes. All I could think of was the utter grief that must’ve overwhelmed him, and how in that much pain I would have crumbled into a heap on the deck. But at that moment, he retired to his room and wrote the poem that became the song many of us know and love. Alistair shared that just weeks before they sailed, the girls had committed themselves to Christ, and though he grieved, Spafford was comforted that his daughters were now with the Lord.
Since accepting Christ into my life, whenever we sing this song at church I am overwhelmed with the assurance and peace that only Christ can give. Now, when we sing it I will be remembering the comfort Horatio Spafford felt as he grieved the loss of his beautiful daughters.
It Is Well with My Soul
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.
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, 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,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
Refrain It is well, with my soul. It is well, it is well with my soul
I pray that each of you knows the love of Jesus Christ, and that you spend time reading the Bible, attending church and growing in your faith. There is no greater love than that of our Lord and Savior – and that love brings a peace to your soul that the things of earth can never provide.