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.
These words were written down by a man who knew pain very deeply. A husband and a father of four children. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 ruined him financially by burning down much of the property he had invested in as a successful lawyer. Later, in 1873, his business interests were even more affected by the downturn of the economy. This caused him to have to stay behind from a trip his family took to Europe together.
As if all of this was not enough to cause complete devastation, the ship that Mr. Spafford’s wife and 4 daughters were on sank rapidly while crossing the Atlantic. He received a letter from his wife with this heartbreaking statement…”Saved alone…”
I remember hearing this story as a young child. I remember then thinking how much faith that would take not to give up. Now, as a mother of 3 with 1 on the way, I find his strength almost overwhelming.
If I were to find that my four children had passed on a trip that I should have been on to protect them through but could not because of the trials I had already been fighting, I am sad to say that I believe my reaction would be somewhat different than Horatio Spafford’s. I can imagine many “whys ” and “seriously, God” and “I give up!”
Yet, through his pain, he wrote such famous words; “It is well with my soul. ”
These words are so famous not because he was some historical figure that the history books remember or because his family was honored in their endurance. His words are famous because his pain is so familiar by many Christians today and through the years.
Just this week I watched at our Uncle’s funeral as his mother said goodbye to her son. I watched as our young aunt with her hurting children stood at her side and also let their leader, their father and husband go, here on earth. What could be more heart wrenching? I do not know how you could ever find enough strength to make it through and I have to ask, how is this even fair. But, we are promised that we will face trials.
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. – 1 John 16:33 (NLT)
We can be sure they will come but along with that assurance we can rest in the fact that God is completely in control. He has overcome the world. Nothing can keep His love hidden from us and His love is perfect love! Unfathomable love!
Through the past 10 years, I have faced some of the hardest trials of my life. Heartbreak in marriage, financial devastation from job loss, fear of what the future held. At this time in our life, my family is facing yet another trial to which we have no answers or even know what tomorrow may hold …
BUT, I can testify to the fact that through it all, through each valley, I have learned more and more what it means to say, “It is well with my soul.”
My faith is still so very week and my strength fails me but God’s word remains true. He gives you a peace in each moment of your life that truly passes all human understanding.
At times I wish I could know that after facing one painful experience that that was the end. There would be no more and you could go on knowing the rest was smooth sailing from there. However, that is not the case.
As the years have passed and I have found myself calling out to God to heal my broken heart, I am finding that it is in the times of sorrow that I am learning more about who He is and how He wants to be my EVERYTHING. I am finding that I long more deeply for His peace and work in my life than my own comfort and satisfaction because I know that even through trials, being in the middle of His hands is the most satisfying and secure place I will ever find.
The writer, Horatio Spafford was a testament of this.
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.
The Apostle Paul also said it so well, “for to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) In our human understanding, we can not fathom how dying would be “gain” or something we strive for but as a servant of Christ, what Paul most boasted in and defined himself as, all other things except for our relationship with Christ is worthless.
Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ. – Phillipian 3:8 (NLT)
Our hearts will be broken, we will encounter loss and persecution. However, we do not have to fear, because we have a savior who has not only been through what we face, He has overcome it! He wants to strengthen us through each trial and bring us closer to him through the sorrow. It is because of this that we can say..
It is well with my soul!
Cassandra writes at Raising Up Stones where she encourages mothers and wives to embrace what may seem like the longest days but are the shortest years of their lives. She has been married to her best friend, who can always make her laugh, for 10 years. Together they have three children and she began homeschooling her kindergartner and Preschooler this year (as the one year old destroys the house!). Her passion for making each moment count with her children, finding romance in the chaos and experiencing real intimacy with God is evident in all that she writes. She hopes to inspire and encourage women in each of these areas. You can join the journey on her blog, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.