It Is Well With My Soul

 Could you imagine losing your only son to death at an early age, followed by the destruction of all your possessions and everything you owned to fire? Then follow that up shortly thereafter with the death of all four of your daughters. Could you bear that kind of pain? Could you keep your sanity? Could you still believe in, trust in and serve God?

The above circumstances are exactly what happened to Horatio Spafford. What did he do?

He was born in New York in 1828. He moved to Chicago where he practiced law. He was a very successful man by his late 30s with his law practice, and by the time he was in his early 40s he was heavily invested heavily in downtown Chicago real estate. God had blessed him with a beautiful home, a lovely wife, four daughters and a son. He was also a devout man of God, and lived a faithful Christian life. One of his close friends and spiritual mentors was Dwight L. Moody. I seemed he had everything in life any man would ever want. But suddenly the trials of Job would beset him.

First the infamous Chicago fire of 1871 destroyed all investments in his real estate holdings. He lost almost every earthy possession. About that same time his only son died from Scarlet Fever.

Understanding that the Spaffords were beset with grief, Dwight L Moody invited them to get away from it all and join him England, and assist him as he ministered in England on one of his evangelistic crusades. Horatio, his wife Anna and four daughters made plans to join Moody in England. The Spaffords traveled to New York, from where they were to catch the French steamer ‘Ville de Havre’ to cross the ocean. Yet just before they were to leave, last-minute business forced Horatio stay. Spafford told his wife and four daughters to go ahead of him and he would follow on the next ship. He knew they were excited about the vacation and did not want to ruin their plans. Anna and their four daughters toward England, while Spafford returned back to Chicago, to take care of his business. Horatio finished up his business, and while packing his bags to head to New York to catch the next ship to England, he received a Telegram. It read: “Saved alone, what shall I do”? It was a telegram from his wife. This is the actual telegram from 1873.

Actual Telegram from Anna Spafford 1873

The ship that Horatio’s wife and daughters had been on, the ‘Ville de Havre’ collided with another vessel. It sank quickly, claiming the lives of over 200 people including the Spafford’s daughters. They were torn violently from her arms of their mother by the force of the waters. Anna was only saved from the fate of her daughters by a piece of wood floating in the water that held up her unconscious body as she floated in the ocean. When she was rescued, Anne was in complete shock and despair, but then the Lord spoke to her and said to her, “You were spared for a purpose.”

Upon hearing the terrible news, Horatio Spafford boarded the next ship out of New York to join his bereaved wife. Horatio asked the Captain to inform him as they passed the area where his children had perished. Soon into the voyage the captain of the ship had called him to the bridge. “After careful calculations I believe we are now passing the place where your children perished, the water here is three miles deep”, said the captain. Horatio then returned to his cabin; fell on his knees before God to comfort his soul, and the Lord moved upon him to pen the lyrics of the great hymn, “It is well with my soul.”

These are those lyrics: It Is Well With MY Soul

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.

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

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for my soul.

It is well
with 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 His cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

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

Even though I know the story behind this song, as I was listening to it in the clip below, I found tears falling from my face. They were not tears of sadness, but tears from the depth of my soul yearning for a deepness in my relationship with God, trying to comprehend the depths of sorrow and heartache that Horatio must have felt, and trying to understand also the depth and strength of his spirit that could write the words, “it is well with my soul” as he sailed over the watery graves of his children.

The answer is in the words to his song, the Peace of God covered him when sorrow overwhelmed him like the mighty waves if the ocean. Though Satan tried to use his sorrow to break him, Christ brought him comfort in his helpless state. He took his heartache and sorrow and laid them upon cross, and bore them no more. It was in God’s word that Horatio found his salvation and hope as he wrote, Thou has taught me to say, It is well with my soul.

Casting all your cares upon him; for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Take my yoke upon you and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29 

Listen to “It Is well With My Soul” here, and imagine Horatio praying this to God.

So the next time you are beset by tragedy, heartache or sorrow (and I pray it is not to the extent of the Spafford’s) look to God as your source of comfort and strength that you might can say, “It Is Well With My Soul”.

Categories: Body of Christ, future, Grace, Jesus, Marriage, Restoration, Stories of Grace, Thankful, Troubles

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11 replies

  1. Excellent timing of this story. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story of love and faith!

    • Thanks Rondi…It is a story of Gods mercy that moves my soul. It is almost to incredible to believe.

    • Thank you for sharing this story, it brougt tears to my eyes because I couldnt imagine the loss of your children. Material possessions don’t really matter to me, because you can replace, but your children and loved ones is something that is hard to lose.

      This timely, as I have suffered the loss of an aunt who I loved very much and just found out about it. But I know I will see her in Heaven. Thank you for sharing this. Anne.

  2. Thank you for sharing the history of one of my favorite christian songs.It is a moving example of great faith in our Creator. Whatever happens in our earthly life has a purpose and God is in control.

  3. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!


  4. I am amazed each time I reread the story of this family, these losses, this pain, this Godliness. Thank you for reminding us……Mary, Boise, Idaho

  5. My all time favorite hymn. Thank you for sharing this encouragement as I’ve needed it a lot lately! Thank you for being faithful in your gift of writing!

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