Many know the story of Horatio and Anna Spafford. Horatio was a prominent businessman in Chicago in the mid-nineteenth century where he and his wife were blessed with five children and a lucrative business. They used their resources to care for people, opened their home to visitors and actively served in their church. Tragedy hit the Spafford family in 1871 when their four-year-old son died from scarlet fever. Just a year later many of Horatio’s assets were destroyed in a fire that swept through downtown Chicago. Despite their own loss, the Spafford family, focused on caring for some of the thousands of people in Chicago who had lost their homes. Two years later, the Spafford family had the opportunity to vacation in England. Horatio sent his wife and four daughters ahead. While at sea, their vessel was hit by an iron sailing ship. It sank immediately and 226 people lost their lives. Anna survived, but her girls did not. She telegrammed Horatio saying, “Saved alone. What shall I do?” Horatio immediately set sail for England to be with Anna. As he passed the place in the ocean where the ship had sunk, he penned the words to this famous hymn:
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll:
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
In the months to follow, Anna kept hearing God’s voice quietly whispering to her, “you were saved for a purpose”. Anna gave birth to three more children but again tragedy hit when their four-year-old son died. Despite life’s challenges, Horatio and Anna continued to dedicate their lives to serving the Lord. In 1881, they moved their family to Jerusalem, where they served the needy and poor, cared for the sick, and took in homeless children. They longed to show people the love of Jesus.
Do you think David’s words in Psalm 23:4 were another way of saying, “it is well with my soul?” Psalm 46 also demonstrates David’s acknowledgement of God’s strength, peace and protection. We too will face trials that produce pain and suffering, but God’s promise in our trials is that “even though … He is with us.” We may not know the outcome, but knowing God is with us, helps us say, “It is well with my soul.”
What challenge are you facing today? Is it physical? emotional? relational? Do you feel God’s presence? Do you long to say, “it is well with my soul?” Do you even recognize your soul? Cry out to God, then be still. Sometimes we miss God’s voice because we are too busy talking.
Resources for Soul Care: Soul Keeping by John Ortberg
Surrender to Love by David Benner
The Book of Psalms