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."

Are you familiar with the above words? I'm sure you are. These words are taken from one of the most familiar and loved hymns of all time.

Do you know the back story behind this powerful hymn? Have you ever stopped singing and thought for a moment: "I wonder what circumstances the writer was going through in writing this hymn?"

There words were penned by a man called Horatio Spafford, who knew full well what it meant to face hardships, trials and uncertainty in life.

The first traumatic event to hit Spafford was the loss of his son at the age of two. Whilst recovering from this terrible tragedy, Spafford - a successful lawyer who invested significant money in property in the area of Chicago - became financially ruined as a result of the 1871 Great Chicago Fire. The majority of his properties were extensively damaged.

Life didn't get any easier for Spafford. As a result of the economic downturn of 1873, Spafford had to spend considerable time trying to get his business back to a profitable position. Instead of going to Europe with his family, he waited in Chicago to finish some business deals. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship carrying all four of Spafford's daughters sank rapidly after colliding with another sea vessel. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone …". It is believed that shortly after receiving this telegram - as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife - he was inspired to write the very words that we know and cherish as the lyrics to the hymn It Is Well With My Soul.

Sadly the Spaffords weren't spared from further suffering: they had three more children: one boy and two girls, with their son Horatio dying at the age of four as a result of scarlet fever.

Wow. If that story doesn't completely floor you, I don't think anything will. Spafford knew what it meant to face hardships and trials.

So how did Spafford do it? What was his secret to handling the seemingly endless troubles and hardships that he faced?

Spafford knew - even in the midst of hardships, tragedy, trials and uncertainty - that God had not abandoned Him. Spafford knew that God was still with him and was still sovereign. Spafford understood that God was still good and was still in control.

Let the words of this powerful hymn encourage and speak to you today - no matter what you might be facing, no matter what hardship you might even currently be enduring - know that God is still sovereign. God is still in control.

Fix your eyes on Jesus friends. Put your faith in Him in the same way that John Spafford did. May we be people of faith who can whole-heartedly say throughout each and every season of life: "It is Well With My Soul!"


Ps Joel Hawting

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