Several months ago we read about Horatio G. Spafford at one of our meetings, this story is so touching and is the story of how my most favorite hymn came to be.
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God… - Job 19:25-26, ESV
The last few years had been pretty terrible for the man. He and his wife, Anna, had 4 beautiful children—3 girls and a boy—when scarlet fever stole the life of their only son. The boy was just four years old.
The family was wealthy; he was a successful lawyer with influential friends. The year after his little boy died, the man invested a sizeable portion of their money in northern Chicago’s growing real estate market. A handful of months later, it was gone—the property and the family fortune destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
But it’s what came next that undid him.
The year was 1873, two years after the fire. He sent Anna and their children (there were 4 girls now, one born since the loss of their son) ahead to England for a family holiday. He stayed back on business with the plan of following shortly after. Only, something went terribly wrong. The ship wrecked with another in the Atlantic, and the girls perished at sea. A grieved Anna reached shore and sent her husband a telegram: “Survived alone.”
Have you ever felt that sorrow, Sister? Have you ever found yourself standing, lost and suddenly alone, in the wreckage of what was or what might have been?
We know our Redeemer lives. We believe it, even when we cannot feel it. Yet grief is thick and tangible and our bodies pain under its weight. Whatever and whomever we grieve, the emotions consume and toss us like ragdolls in the waves and we have no energy left to swim. And so we do the only thing we know to do: we give the grief back to God.
When a broken Chicago businessman named Horatio Spafford sailed past the very spot on the Atlantic where his baby girls breathed their last, he offered up these words of worship to the God who presides over all the sorrows and the seas, to the One who has borne the whole of our grief and our sin:
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.
Yes, Lord, haste the day where our faith shall be sight. And may be spend all our days until then offering you our joys, our grief, everything we are. Amen.
IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL Horatio G. Spafford, 1873
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.
Refrain It is well, with my soul, It is well, with my soul, It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so, it is well with my soul.