I heard a lesson once on the history of some of the songs we sing in church. One of those songs happened to be It Is Well with My Soul, originally written by Horatio G. Spafford in the mid 1800s. If you’ve never heard the story behind the words, I’d like to share this incredibly touching story with you now.
Spafford, a New York native, became a successful Chicago lawyer, where he had a wife, son and four daughters. He was a Christian and a man full of faith. His life later turned into what we would call a tragedy, but through it all, he remained true to our Lord and Savior.
We aren’t sure how, but he lost his son. As a new mother, I can’t even imagine the grief associated with the death of a child. Yet, that was just the beginning of trials for Spafford. He had invested in lots of Chicago real estate, only to lose it all in a fire. So not only was the family experiencing grief for their lost loved one, they also were also in financial trouble.
Two years later, Spafford and his family planned to assist some in an evangelistic campaign to Europe. I imagine they wanted a break and a chance to serve the Lord presented just that. Spafford was detained by business the day they were to depart, but sent his wife and daughters ahead as planned, with the intention of joining them a few days later. That reunion would never come. The ship carrying his wife and daughters was shipwrecked, and his four daughters, along with many others, drowned. His wife sent word to him that she alone was saved. Struck with unimaginable grief, he boarded a ship to meet his wife.
On the way to meet her he wrote what is now one of our most beloved hymns, in large part because of the amazing faith it illustrates. A man who had lost almost everything in this life in just a few short years, who had every earthly reason to give up, stayed true to our God. He was able to see through his grief and keep his eyes on the eternal prize (Phil. 3:14, Rev. 2:10)
Can you imagine a faith like that? Think about Jesus. Can you imagine the faith in His Father’s plan that Jesus had to have in order to carry them out while He lived on Earth? Can you imagine the faith it took to pray “not as I will, but as you will,” (Matt. 26:39) knowing the excruciating death He was about to endure? How broken hearted he must have been to be tortured and crucified by the human race He loved? Having the faith to know without a doubt, that He would be raised again?
I have not personally experienced grief like Horatio Spafford or pain and suffering like Jesus did on Earth, but these stories should be a source of inspiration to us all as Christians. Let’s daily strive to increase our faith and have the faith to move the mountains in our lives. Let’s have the faith to say, no matter what, “It is well with my soul!” Others will see that, and be inspired likewise.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble and its swelling.”