Tuesday, January 26, 2010

It is well.

Tragedy cuts to the core of our soul. It can shake us to our very foundation.
When all that can be shaken is shaken, how do we respond?

I have experienced loss... but not to the magnitude of this fellow.

Meet Horatio Gates Spafford, who penned the famous hymn "It Is Well With My Soul".
The words of his hymn penetrate so deeply when you realize at what cost they flowed from his hand.

Horatio and his wife, Anna, lost their only son to scarlet fever at the young age of four. Just a year later, all his holdings in real estate along the shores of Lake Michigan went up, literally, in flames in the Great Chicago Fire.

Another year later, Horatio was convinced the family needed a holiday, so they traveled to New York and booked passage for England. At the last minute, an unforeseen business affair arose and Horatio sent his wife and four daughters to sea without him, with the intent that he would follow shortly. Nine days later he received a telegram from his wife with these fateful words, "Saved alone."

"On November 2nd, 1873, the 'Ville du Havre' had collided with 'The Loch Earn', an English vessel. It sank in only 12 minutes, claiming the lives of 226 people. Anna Spafford had stood bravely on the deck, with her daughters Annie, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta clinging desperately to her. Her last memory had been of her baby being torn violently from her arms by the force of the waters. Anna was only saved from the fate of her daughters by a plank which floated beneath her unconscious body and propped her up. When the survivors of the wreck had been rescued, Mrs. Spafford's first reaction was one of complete despair. Then she heard a voice speak to her, 'You were spared for a purpose.' And she immediately recalled the words of a friend, 'It's easy to be grateful and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God.'"

Upon hearing the terrible news, Horatio Spafford boarded the next ship out of New York to join his bereaved wife. Bertha Spafford (the fifth daughter of Horatio and Anna, born later) explained that during her father's voyage, the captain of the ship had called him to the bridge. 'A careful reckoning has been made', he said, 'and I believe we are now passing the place where the du Havre was wrecked. The water is three miles deep.' Horatio then returned to his cabin and penned the lyrics of his great hymn."

Had he known that his words would comfort countless hearts through the coming years, maybe he would have been a little consoled.
Their story does not end there, they went on to have more children and do great exploits in Jerusalem.

It Is Well With My Soul
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.

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!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, 'tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of 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.
~Horatio Spafford~



Janelle said...

It's nice to have you back posting again! I love this song and all it means, being born out of such testing makes it mean so much. You have two verses here I'd never seen! I am so glad to have them! Thank you!
My Dad used to say often, that what can be shaken, will be shaken. The more we "get" the heart of God, the more that actually begins to be a comfort. He will not leave us in instability, but wants us truly secure in Him! Have a blessed day!

Pamela said...

A dear friend here in Florida passed away Monday night (Feb. 1st) and it was a great comfort to read your post about this amazing man. God shakes us but never lets it break us! He is our Rock and Redeemer and we will see this dear man again.

Jen said...

I usually do not "lurk" on others pages, and I am not exactly sure how I came across your page... It was a few clicks back.. But I wanted to say thank you for shining your light so brightly for the world to see. I love love this song. I have played it each and every time I have miscarried and it brings such comfort and peace.. Esp. knowing the history behind the tune. May the Lord continue to shine through you sweet sister..

Brenna said...

This is one of my two or so favorite hymns. Ah, it is well with my soul.