It Is Well With My Soul

Written by Brother Frank Natoli on Tuesday, November 26, 2013. Posted in Devotional

It Is Well With My Soul

Some blogs are light-hearted, other more serious. This blog focuses on a more serious topic.

Have you ever wondered about why innocent people die in earthquakes or tsunamis? Have you ever surfed the TV channels and come across photos of poor starving children in Africa? Have you ever questioned God, asking why do bad or terrible things happen to innocent children and good people?

If you have, you're not alone. In fact, it's a frequent question asked in the word of God. The Psalms ask it. Job asks it. Lamentations is full of it. Habakkuk (gotta to love that name) complains to God about it and Jeremiah questions God asking, why do the wicked prosper and the innocent suffer? (Jeremiah 12:1).

Bad things happen because the world we live in is not the way God originally created it. We read in the first chapters of Genesis that, in the Garden of Eden, the world was in perfect harmony. There were no hurricanes or tornadoes. There were no murders, riots, or wars. There was no human pain, suffering, or death. But Adam and Even chose to sin, and from that point forward, the world and all the people in it (that includes you and me), are subject to the consequences of sin and evil in the world. There's no easy way around it — life can be challenging.

There's an old hymn called, "It is Well with My Soul," which I think helps put things in perspective.

Horatio Spafford wrote the hymn after tragic events occurred in his life. The first event was the 1871 Great Chicago Fire, which ruined him financially. He had been a successful lawyer and had invested significantly in property in the area of Chicago, which was destroyed by the great fire. (No one had insurance back then.) His business interests were further hit by an economic downturn a few years later.

As a result of these events, he planned to travel to Europe with his family. In a late change of plans, he sent the family ahead because he was delayed on business matters. While his family crossed the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with another ship, and all four of Spafford's daughters died! Not one or two, but all four! His wife, Anna, however survived.

Shortly afterwards, as Spafford sailed to meet his grieving wife, the captain called him into his cabin and said, "I believe we are now passing over the place where your family's ship went down." In that moment, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed where his daughters had drowned…

"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!"

Little did Spafford know that his words would give comfort to so many people, even today as we sing this hymn. God turned his pain into a song of strength and comfort for others because he understood that, with Christ, his "lot" (condition or situation) in life would only be temporary.

This may be an old-fashioned hymn, but the message of inspiration he received that day was very direct. The Lord reminded him that terrible things do happen, "…he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45).

Similarly, we won't always understand why things happen the way they do — God's thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are His ways our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9) — but in the end, we need to be reminded that our hope and real joy is in Christ. And that no matter what happens in our lives, if we love and serve Him according to His will "and be content with such things" we can be confident that Jesus "will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5).

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