‘It is well with my soul’

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah” Psalm 46:1-3

Horatio G. Spafford and his wife, Anna, were prominent people in 1860s Chicago. As well as being a lawyer and businessman, the Spaffords were supporters and close friends of D.L. Moody, the famous preacher.

In 1870 things started to go wrong. The Spaffords’ only son died of scarlet fever at the age of four.

A year later, the Chicago Fire destroyed all their real estate holdings on the shores of Lake Michigan. Horatio decided to take his wife and four daughters on a holiday to England to get away from their troubles and to help D.L. Moody on his evangelistic tour of Britain.

The Spaffords traveled to New York in November of 1873 to catch a French steamer to cross the Atlantic. At the last-minute, a business development forced Horatio to stay behind. He saw his family onto the ship and made plans to catch up with them later.

On Nov. 2, 1873 the “Ville de Havre,” the ship carrying the Spaffords, had collided with “The Lochearn,” an English vessel. It sank in only 12 minutes, claiming the lives of 226 people among them were his daughters, Annie, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta. Only his wife, Anna, was spared. She sent a telegram to her husband which read, in part, “Saved alone. What shall I do?”

Upon hearing the terrible news, Horatio Spafford boarded the next ship out of New York to join his bereaved wife. The captain of the ship had called Horatio to the bridge and said, “A careful reckoning has been made and I believe we are now passing the place where the ‘de Havre’ was wrecked. The water is three miles deep.”

Horatio then returned to his cabin, buffed by the seas and his grief, and penned the lyrics of this great hymn:

“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.

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.

It is well, it is well, with 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!

It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

As we continue to churn through rough and unknown waters of a global pandemic, political, racial unrest and economic upheaval be assured, because of Christ, we too can say “It is well with my soul.” Trust Him. Rest well.

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Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Rev. Tim Boger, senior pastor of Big Woods Bible Church in Lock Haven.


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