Driving to a meeting today, the song “It Is Well” came on my Spotify. I began to sing the words like normal but then began to think, ‘what if it is not well with my soul’. Because if I’m honest, I’ve had a lot of time where I’ve almost lied, singing it is well, when my life was a complete train wreck. So what if it is not well with my soul.
I looked up the origin of the song and I hope it brings as much comfort to you as it did to me.
The version most of us have been singing lately is off Bethel’s album “You Make Me Brave”. The originally of those words date much older than 2014. In 1876 Horatio Spafford penned a hymn called “It Is Well With My Soul”. He didn’t write it as a shout of joy, he wrote it in his deepest pain.
Horatio Spafford was a successful lawyer and businessman in Chicago with a loving wife and five children. He had the America dream. But In 1871 the tears began to flow. Their youngest son caught pneumonia and died. Then a few month after than the great Chicago fire burnt down his business and they lost most of their wealth. Though they were able to rebuild the business, the tragedy continues in 1873. On a boat named the Ville du Harve that was set sail from the U.S. to Europe, Mrs. Spafford and their four daughters set sail without Mr. Spafford, who had to stay a couple extra days for business. Four days into the journey the Ville du Harve collided with a iron-hulled ship. 12 minutes later, the Ville du Harve slipped beneath the dark waters of the Atlantic, carrying with it 226 of the 313 passengers, including the four Spafford girls. Only Mrs. Spafford survived on a floating piece of wreckage. She was rescued and telegraphed her husband telling him of the tragic news. He booked passage on the next ship to join his grieving wife.
Spafford wrote “It is well with my soul” on this journey to find his wife.
Alone on a ship, after just finding out that his four daughters had just died, just a couple years after he lost his youngest son and his entire business, he penned these words.
“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 well with my soul.”
It isn’t a declaration that everything is ok, it’s a shout that everything isn’t, but my God is still in control. Singing it is well is a reminder that the old will pass away and the new WILL come. You might not have understanding about the deep hurts that you are experiencing, but I hope you can turn to the God who comforts and the God who does understand.
Mrs. Spafford was quoted saying after her daughters passed, “God gave me four daughters. Now they have been taken from me. Someday I will understand why.”
Someday we will have the hard questions answered, Find hope that that day is coming.
“The peace of God which surpasses all understanding, shall keep your hearts, your minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
Spafford wrote these words to remind himself, that even in the deepest pain and grief, that my God is in control. That we can sing it is well, because In Jesus, it is well, it is well with my soul.
By Kyle Pettit, WIL Today