"It is well with my soul." Horatio Spafford penned these words in 1873 and they are still being sung in churches today.
Spafford was a successful businessman living in the late 1800s with a beautiful wife, Anna, and five young children. But in 1871, his son passed away from pneumonia and his business was mostly lost in the great Chicago fire.
In the next two years, the business began to flourish again and in 1873, Spafford's wife and four daughters boarded the Ville du Havre headed for Europe where Horatio was expected to join them a few days later. However, several days into the voyage, the ship collided with another vessel causing it to sink into the depths of the ocean carrying with it 223 passengers including Horatio’s four children.
Anna Spafford was saved and sent a telegraph to Horatio nine days later saying, “Saved alone, what shall I do?”
Horatio immediately boarded another ship to be with his wife during this tragic time. It was then that he is said to have written the famous hymn.
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 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
I am amazed at the incredible faith Horatio held in the midst of so much grief and pain.
How is your soul? Is it well? Have you asked yourself that lately? Have you really taken the time to consider the state of your mind and heart?
Are you burdened? Worn down? Maybe even angry at God for the pain you have suffered? Maybe you're thinking the exact opposite.
"No God, it is not well with my soul. In fact, my heart is in turmoil. I am depressed and hurting. I am definitely not well."
I’m sure Horatio was questioning God during this time too. He was human after all. I can imagine him saying, “Why God? Why would you give me children just to take them away? Why would you cause my heart so much grief?”
But even in the midst of that pain, he recognized the sovereignty of God. He recognized that he was not in control, and that even though he didn’t understand, God was at work in the midst of it.
I don’t know why God has allowed me to struggle with depression. I don’t know why I’ve had to battle an eating disorder for years. I don’t know why so many people must fight inner demons that eat away at the core of who they were created to be. I don’t know why thousands have suffered the evil of abuse and manipulation.
I don’t know why, but that’s okay.
It’s okay because God knows. And while these things are not from him, he allows hardships to take place in our lives so that our reliance upon him will be strengthened.
Never in my life have I had to rely so entirely on God and concede my own incapability than when in living on the roller coaster ride of mental illness, but never before have I been blessed with such a deep understanding of who God truly is and what his unconditional love and grace mean in my life. Truly, God works everything out for good for those who love him. (Romans 8:28)
No matter what you’re facing right now, be that addiction, depression, anxiety, unemployment, sickness, trauma, or tragedy, I want you to know that God is fighting for you. He ready to battle your inner demons if only you will let him.
There’s a verse I have written on the wall of my bedroom. It says
"The LORD will fight for you, you need only to be still." (Exodus 14:14, NIV)
Stop trying to fight on your own. Stop trying to understand God. You can’t. Be still in his presence and rest. He will turn your story into your testimony if you allow yourself to trust in him and just breathe.
Maybe not today, but someday, I pray that you too will be able to confidently declare, "It is well with my soul."
I encourage you to be blessed and listen to these thought provoking lyrics here.