If I said the name Horatio Spafford, some would probably think I made up the name and was using it for some crazy man in a crazy story. The name is real and so was the man who bore that name.
And his wife.
And his four daughters.
And his son.
Horatio was a well-established lawyer in the 1800’s, in Chicago. His wife, Anna, and he bore a son and four daughters. In 1870, the waters surrounding the Spafford’s lives began to churn and they were to find themselves in the midst of a raging storm. Horatio and Anna lost their son, age four to scarlet fever. WIthin a year of their great loss, the great Chicago fire occurred and the real estate holdings along the shores of Lake Michigan that Horatio had heavenly invested in were destroyed by the fire.
In need of a distraction from all occurrences of the past year, Horatio planned a vacation for his family, only to be delayed at the last moment. He encouraged his wife and daughters to go on ahead, telling them he’d catch up with them in England. It wasn’t meant to be. While sailing to England on the ship, the Ville de Havre. While en route to England, it collided with another vessel and sank within 12 minutes, claiming the lives of 226 people, four of which were Spafford’s daughters.
Shortly thereafter, while Horatio was traveling overseas to reunite with his grieving wife, the captain called for him, saying they were passing the spot where the Ville de Havre had sunk. Returning to his cabin after quiet contemplation, Horatio penned the famous hymns, It Is Well with My Soul.
I have sung that hymn hundreds of times. I have heard it even more. But I never really heard it until I was singing it to my little grandson, while rocking him to sleep for his nap.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with 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.
It’s funny how we can be like children when it comes to music. They hear the words, but not really and their version of ‘My coutnry ’tis of Thee, sweet land of liberty,” becomes, “…sweet land of liver trees.” (True incedent.)
We do the same thing. We don’t really listen to the song – the words – that we’re singing. Children may get the words twisted, but we can have the tendency to check out while we’re singing and not even know what we just sang or the meaning behind the words. I think that’s what happened to me.
It was the last line of the hymn. The ‘even so’ part.
The stanza that line is in talks about the Lord’s second coming, for those of you who believe. I used to sing that stanza with joy, but teh other day, it changed. Yes, there is still joy, but now there is also fear. A healthy fear, I hope. A fear that says, Christ is returning and
Every knee shall bow. Whether we chose to believe or not.
Every tongue will confess that He is Lord. (Romans 14:11)
A righteous judgment will take place. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Our faith will be made sight.
Are we ready for this? Is our soul “well” as we anticipate, await, and yearn for His return? Are we trusting Him to be there, ready for us as that cloud is rolled back while the trumpet rings out that He is finally here?
Life seems to be getting harder and so often it does not feel well within as our personal storms rage without. Yet – I pray that you find peace today and a calm somewhere within that can say, as Horatio Spafford was able to say,
It is well with my soul.