This is kind of a follow up to the blog I wrote 3 weeks ago. I can’t say I feel any better about my situation. I still doubt. I can’t help it. Faith in something you can’t see is hard, even though that really is the definition of faith. But tonight I learned that even though the situations might not be what I want, and that I might not be happy, I can still say it is well with my soul.
My dad loves old hymns, and he loves finding out the stories behind why they were written. Long ago he told me the story of one called “It Is Well With My Soul”. You can google the lyrics, but the main gist of it is, no matter what the circumstances, it can always be well in our souls. They are not subject to the circumstances that surround our lives. They are instead taken care of by the One who gave His life in our place. We are loved eternally, and were bought out of spiritual slavery at a high cost, and because of that it is well with our souls. The lyrics are very powerful as they are, but when you hear the story behind them, it is even more so.
The man who wrote the lyrics, Horatio Spafford, had lost his only son to illness, lost a lot of his investment property in the Great Chicago Fire, and lost further assets in an economic downturn — all of this within 2 years. His family had planned to travel to Europe, but Mr. Spafford was delayed on business. So he sent his family on ahead.
The boat they were traveling on was hit by another vessel, and his four daughters died. His wife survived, however, and he got on a ship and went to meet her. While he was in the vicinity of the shipwreck that took his daughters’ lives, he penned the song. The circumstances sound a lot like the story of Job, who said “The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” That seems to be Mr. Spafford’s reaction as well. God is still good, even when the circumstances are bad. Because of that, it is well with my soul.
I’m sure he doubted that God had his best interests in mind, even as he repeated once and again the words, “It is well with my soul.” But he knew that, although he couldn’t see the end result, it was a good one. If you’d asked that same man at the end of his life whether it all turned out for his best, you’d hear a resounding yes. I don’t know how, but in some way God turned tragedy around as a way to bring himself glory. It’s such a bizarre thing. The words that were birthed from that tragedy even helped me tonight, 140 years later. It gives me hope that my (way more trivial) life’s tragedies will also work out for my good. Because of that, it is well with my soul.