“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.”
I’m reading a book by Kenneth W. Osbeck that gives the background of some of the most popular gospel songs of our times. Osbeck states these songs were written out of personal experiences of the writers, and are heartfelt expressions of their undying faith in God. One of my favorites, “It Is Well With My Soul” was written in 1873 by Horatio Gates Spafford, a young attorney from Chicago. Spafford planned a trip to Europe for his family, a wife and 4 daughters. He was detained in Chicago for business, but sent his family on, promising to meet them in Europe as soon as possible. Halfway across the Atlantic, the ship was struck by another vessel and sank in twelve minutes. Back in Chicago, Spafford was packing for his journey, when he received an urgent telegram which said, “Saved alone. Your wife.” Spafford’s wife was the only survivor of the family. They lost all four of their daughters at sea. I can’t even imagine what Mr. Spafford was thinking as he boarded another ship for Europe, knowing that he would only find his grieving wife waiting for him. He later recounted that when the ship seemed to pass over the sight of the terrible accident at sea, he stood on the deck and looked out over the ocean. It was at that moment that he was able to respond to his loss by turning to his faith in God. The words “When sorrow like sea billows roll—whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, it is well with my soul”, flowed through his mind and gave him peace in the face of tragedy.
We all face times in our lives when “sorrows like sea billows roll”, but we can take comfort in knowing that our God is the master of the sea and everything around it. Take refuge in His strength and have the faith to say through whatever trials you may face, “it is well with my soul.”