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.
The writer of the words of this well known hymn was not a preacher or evangelist, but a Chicago businessman in the 1870’s. Horatio Spafford was planning a European vacation for his wife and their four daughters, but when unexpected business detained him, he sent his family on ahead planning to catch up with them later. In the North Atlantic their steamship, the Villa de Havre, was rammed by another ship and sank in twelve minutes. When Mr. Spafford got word from his wife it was a telegram bearing just two words, “Saved alone”. He penned the four stanzas aboard ship near the spot where the Villa de Havre had gone down. Was he sorrowful? Certainly, and yet, where did he get his “peace, which passeth all understanding?” He explains it all in the remaining verses; though beset by trials, he is bought by the blood sacrifice of Christ, and by that purchase he has been released from the bondage of sin. Even though he may be witness to the end times, the reality of eternity’s peace and rest is enough. The sixteen lines which make up the verses have brought comfort and peace to millions of Christians in the 125 years since it was first published. Is it fair to suggest that without his tragedy, without those sixteen lines, that comfort would be absent? God moves in ways we don’t understand and there are many Biblical parallels to Mr. Spafford’s experience; through sacrifice, joy from tears, life from death. His last verse ends, “Even so, it is well with my soul”. Pause and consider. Is it well with your soul?