they walked through tough times
There is an old hymn written by Horatio Spafford that Christians sang
as they walked through tough times.” It Is Well with My Soul was
inspired by Scripture and the tragic experiences that Spafford and his
wife Anna walked through during his sixty years of life on earth
In 1869 Horatio was a devoted husband and father, a man who
loved his family, he was a successful Chicago lawyer with a thriving
practice. He and his lovely wife Anna lived in a beautiful home with
their four daughters and one son. Horatio was a strong Christian man
who sought to know the Lord more and he taught others to do the same.
He walked with D.L. Moody and other well-known Christian leaders of
Though he walked in peace and favor Horatio Spafford was a
man well acquainted with trials and personal sorrows. The famous hymn
he wrote outlines his steps and the way that he walked through the
“When peace like a river attended my way” For forty-one years
Horatio basked in success and favor with God and man. Isa 48:18.
Things began to happen in his life where his peace could have been
disturbed, but his testimony speaks to us that he walked in peace like
a river that flowed from God. It was well with his soul.
“When sorrows like sea billows roll” Sorrow stuck when
Horatio and Anna’s four-year old son, their only son, Horatio Goertner
Spafford died of Scarlet Fever in 1870. It was a great and sad loss
for the faithful couple.
Though I have known this great song for many years it became real
to me while driving home one December evening from our oldest son’s
home. He is dying of ALS. We have fasted and prayed for his
healing, stood on healing Scriptures, he has been prayed for by many
others with the gift of healing, we have sought out every possible
avenue for medical help, but the fact is the disease has progressed
rapidly. Unless God steps in with a miracle he will soon go home to
be with the Lord. We are thankful he has turned his life to the Lord.
We know he will be with the Lord and will love Heaven, but we will
miss him terribly. His times remain in God’s hands and I can truly
say it is well with my soul.
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, “It is well; it
is well with my soul.” There are relationships that no matter what
you do or say things never to seem to get resolved. Go to the Lord in
prayer, talk it over with Him and make sure there are no ill feelings
that need to be taken care of on your part, put the relationship into
His hands and rest in Him.
A while back it would have seemed that a dear old Christian friend
would have come close again, but instead that door shut. We cannot
understand these things, but we must search our hearts to see if there
is something that God wants to speak to us about, and then put the
friendship into the Lord’s hands. I have found many times when we put
people, relationships and things into the Lords hands He takes them.
“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the
Lord.” Job 1:21. It is well with my soul.
“It is well (it is well), with my soul (with my soul), It is
well, it is well with my soul.” The more I sing this song the more I
find comfort released into our trials. It is becoming one of our
household songs. On night I woke up and began praying in the wee
hours. As I lay praying, I heard music coming from one of our boy’s
room. They like to sleep with Christian music playing. As I listened
I heard the song, It Is Well with My Soul.
“Though Satan should buffer tho’ trials should come,” It was
October 8, 1871 when the Great Chicago Fire occurred. Spafford was
still struggling over the loss of his son. He lost a fortune in that
fire for he had invested heavily in Chicago real property. Much of it
was burned in the fire leaving him and his family with another great
loss. Instead of thinking of his loss he plunged in to help rebuild
homes for the 100,000 people that lost their homes in the fire. It
was well with his soul even in the midst of his personal loss.
“Let this blest assurance control” God gives us living hope
through Jesus Christ in the midst of our trials. Whether we live on
earth or go on to be with the Lord He is always with us, He will never
leave us nor forsake us. Heb 13:5. Others may walk away from us, but
God will never leave us. We can be sure of one thing on earth as we
rest in the Lord He is there to carry us through the trials and when
we allow Him to do that it will be well with our souls.
“That Christ hast regarded my helpless estate” In early 1873
economic woes hit the country and Spafford’s business interests were
again hit heavily. In November of 1873 things were looking up for
Chicago and the Spafford’s decided to take a much needed vacation and
part mission. They planned to meet up with their friend D.L. Moody
who was conducting a revival in England.
They traveled to New York to board the luxury liner SS Ville Du Havre.
Just before departing on the cruise ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean
an urgent situation came up and rather than make the family wait he
decided to stay behind to take care of business at hand. His plan was
to join his family when the matters were cleared up in a few weeks.
Horatio’s wife Anna and daughters Maggie, Tanetta, Annie, and Bessie
boarded the luxury liner. It is recorded in the book, Then Sings My
Soul, that “that as Spafford settled his family in their cabin, a
sense of unease filled his mind, and he decided to move them to a
stateroom closer to the bow. Once that was done, they said their
goodbyes and he reluctantly left the ship to complete his work.”
“During the small hours of November 22, 1873, as the Ville du
Havre glided over smooth seas, the passengers were jolted from their
bunks. Their ship had collided with an iron sailing vessel and water
poured in like Niagara. The Ville du Havre, tilted dangerously.
Screams, prayers, and oaths merged into a nightmare of unmeasured
terror. Passengers clung to posts, tumbled through darkness, and were
swept away by powerful currents of icy ocean. Loved ones fell from
each other’s grasp and disappeared into foaming blackness. Within two
hours, the mighty ship vanished beneath the waters. There were 226
fatalities, including all four of Spafford’s daughters, Maggie,
Tanetta, Annie, and Bessie. Mrs. Spafford was found nearly
unconscious, clinging to a piece of the wreckage.”
Spafford’s wife Anna was among the 47 survivors. After being rescued
she sent her husband a now famous telegram saying, “Saved alone. What
shall I do?”
While crossing the Atlantic Ocean to join his wife,
Spafford’s ship passed near the spot where his daughters died. The
ship’s captain slowed the ship to he could pay his last respects to
his daughters. While thinking about them and how precious they were
to him the Holy Spirit inspired him to write the hymn It Is Well with
My Soul. When Anna was finally reunited with her husband she said, “I
have not lost my children. We are only separated for a little time.”
No matter what grief we have to walk through on earth our
eternal hope still remains that we will again see our loved ones in
Heaven if they are believers. “The Lord is nigh unto them that are
of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Ps 34:18.
“And hath shed His own blood for my soul.” God desires for
it to be well for our soul. He cares for us; He died for us so that
we could have life. If you are upset and nervous, worried and
distressed, angry, it is not well with your soul. As you walk in
God’s righteousness, meaning right standing with God and man, in the
midst of great distress it will be well with your soul.
“My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought! “ Jesus was
more than acquainted with sorrow and troubles and unfairness than any
of us. He took the sins of all mankind unto Himself for us. John 2:2
He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our
iniquities, by His wounds we are healed.” Is 53:5. Though Him we
“My sin, not in part but the whole,” All of us are sinners,
each day we must come before the Lord and let go of sins that hold us
to earth. Out citizenship is in Heaven, not on earth. It must be
well with our soul.
“Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,” This great
hymn still gives hope and encouragement to us as we walk through deep
trials. In spite of all the good things Spafford walked through many
serious blows of life that were not fair. He gave all that to Jesus
who bore it all.
“Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!” In 1880,
after returning to Chicago, the Spaffords had 3 more children, but
their second son also died.
In 1881 they decided to leave America and moved to
Jerusalem, Israel. The Spaffords gathered up baby Bertha and their
newborn daughter Grace to set sail for Israel. They formed the
American Colony to serve the poor and care for the homeless children.
Years later the colony was named for their work by the Nobel price
winner Selma Lagerlof.
“For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:” To learn
to be content in every circumstance that comes our way in life. Phil
4:11. God is the only One to teach us this valuable lesson in life.
We must look to our Teacher, Jesus Christ, if we are to learn this
lesson. Our experiences are our practice sheets. Set your eyes on
Him and you will not be shaken by circumstances and it will be well
with your soul.
“If Jordan above me shall roll,” If the river Jordan rolls
over our lives it can still be well with our souls.
“No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life” As we see
through Jeremiah’s eyes we see that though we have trials God has a
plan for our welfare, and His plan is to give us a future and a hope.
Spafford obviously learned that our times really are in God’s hands.
He holds the number of all our days.
“Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.”
Isa 26:3, “Thou dost keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed
on thee, because he trusts in thee.” “Great peace have those who love
thy law; nothing can make them stumble.” Ps 119:165, One little girl
misquoted the 23rd Psalm, but said the gospel so simply. She said,
“The Lord is my Shepherd, that’s all I need.” In the midst of tragedy
you can experience soul wellness.
“And Lord haste the day, when my faith shall be sight,” There
will be a day when the unfairness of life will become a dim memory
when Jesus returns with our loved ones and there is no more separation
for we will spend eternity together.
“The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;” The dark clouds of
life will be rolled back and we will forget our misery. Sometimes
there is misery in life, but God promises that we will be restored and
strengthened in Him. Job 11:16.
“The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,” When
that trump sounds and the Lord descends we will be reunited with our
loved ones. It will be a glorious day!
“Even so, it is well with my soul.” How can it be well with
our soul when things are not well with our life? Life is unfair at
times. God never promised us it would be fair. He said we would
experience difficulties and persecutions, but He also promised that He
would be with us through them if we will only look up and take His
hand. At one point my head was hanging down from all the various
situations we were facing. The Lord spoke to me and said, “My hand is
here waiting for you to take. I will help you, just look up and take
it.” It was amazing how quickly the hardship of the situations
vanished in my spirit and I was able to again say, it is well with my
This great hymn inspires us to praise God whatever happens in
our lives for He is the Source and comfort in our lives. No matter
what circumstance you find yourself in you also will find comfort in
these words. “It is well with my soul.”
Whether we are in peace or in sorrow God is greater than
anything that Satan can bring our way. Ro 8:35. In the midst of
heartbreak Christ is with you to strengthen you so that it will be
well with your soul. Nu 6:24-26.