In 1873, Horatio Spafford, an American lawyer, wrote the hymn “It Is Well with My Soul.” It was written after a hard two years in Horatio’s life: His only son died in 1871 at the age of four from scarlet fever. Then, his financial life was ruined when his property was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Then in 1873, he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the SS Ville du Havre, but sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business concerning zoning problems following the Great Chicago Fire. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sailing ship and all four of Spafford’s daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him a telegram that read, “Saved alone.” Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.
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.
In the face of grief, in the face of tragedy, we have a choice: we can choose sorrow, despair, and the unending undertow of fear and anger. OR we can see the strength, endurance, courage and faith that is ever-present, as is God. We can choose to look at our life and see that whether in times of peace or in times of sorrow, God is with us. That it all times of life – even in the face of death and destruction – God is with us to comfort us, to give us hope, to guide us from hatred into action. And until then, we wait. As Psalm 130: 5-9 instructs us:
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.
Activtiy: Post a photo or a text that brings you peace during this difficult time. What or who reassures you of the hope that all will be okay? What keeps you grounded when “sorrows like sea billows roll?”