In 1871, an unknown Christian at the time named Horatio Spafford came home from work one day to learn that his darling 4 year old son had just died of scarlet fever. With immense mourning and grief his wife and he went on. Things didn’t get better, as Spafford’s real estate business venture went up in literal smoke upon the Great Chicago Fire. He lost about everything, his finances were in dire straights. By 1873, his family was destitute.
Instead of wallowing in this misery, Spafford decided that his family was going to help a known pastor out who was going to do some evangelizing in Europe. I suspect he did so to just get away from the misery but also because of his faith in Jesus Christ. He had some business to attend to, so the plan was to send his wife and his 4 young daughters ahead to to Europe on a steam ship which was leaving. The plan was he would meet them later.
Days into their trip, and crossing the Atlantic, the ship his wife and daughters were on collided with another ship of which then immediately sank. Spafford’s worst fears were realized when he received a telegram from his wife which said two words “SAVED ALONE!”. By this, she was saying she survived but his 4 daughters perished.
He then set out to meet his grieving wife on another ship, and upon that ship instead of writing an angry effigy to God and condemning his faith in Him, he wrote a hymn to God, which is still well known today called “It is Well”.
These are the lyrics
“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 is well with my soul
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come
Let this blest assurance control
That Christ (yes, He has) has regarded my helpless estate
And has shed His own blood for my soul
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought (a thought)
My sin, not in part, but the whole (every bit, every bit, all of it)
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more (yes)
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”
Spafford turned to God, He trusted that whether the good, bad, indifferent that God’s purpose in this was perfect. Even IN THE BLEAKEST MISERY, he wrote these words! Having gone through heart breaks, not even close to the scale of Spafford’s, I can say this is the only way one could climb out of that misery, dread, and depression. Turning to God alone! Not to man, not to other’s who will enable your wallowing, but to God alone! Will you pass that test? And do not think for a second you are somehow more special than Horatio Spafford.
I ask that you listen to the hymn below, listen to the words of a broken man who had everything taken away from him in a very short period of time. If it doesn’t move you, or you cannot relate to him, you are most likely still in sinful rebellion to God. And upon that day when everything falls apart in your life, you will be left all alone and there will be NO WAY out of that darkness. And if by chance you did make it out? Ask yourself WHO by His gracious and mercy led you out! It was always the Omnipotent Great Almighty God!
Can you search yourself and then sing in all honesty, “It is Well With My Soul”? The only way would be to place your faith alone in Jesus Christ alone just as Horatio Spafford, who was in His peace and rest, so when the darkness came repeatedly, although devastated and completely broken hearted he remained unmoved in Christ’s joy, that gracious peace without total understanding.