Horatio Spafford, after enduring an horrendously tragic event in his life, wrote a poem which later became a beloved hymn.
In 1873, two years after the death of his young son due to scarlet fever, Spafford’s wife and daughters were traveling to Europe on a ship, the the Ville du Havre. The ship sank after being struck by another vessel. His wife, upon arriving in Europe, sent a very brief but heart-breaking message to her husband: "Survived alone."
Spafford then boarded an ocean liner himself to meet his wife. When the ship passed the spot of the tragedy that took the lives of his daughters, he wrote:
"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.
"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."
As you look at life around you — locally, nationally, globally — it might be easy to feel overwrought by the horrific sights and sounds. The turmoil in our own national government, the genocide perpetrated against groups of people and the hatred expressed by fanatics of various religions can feel overwhelming.
However, in the midst of challenges, difficulties, and tragedies, it would be extremely beneficial to remember, it is well with your soul.
This is not "pie-in-the-sky" thinking. It is not pretending that hardships do not exist. They do. "It is well with your soul" means that you are claiming the assurance that God never leaves your side, even in the severe circumstances in life.
God is there in the peaceful times. God is there in times of great sorrow. God is there when trials and temptations strive to take you away from him.
The Lord knows your circumstances. In love he surrounds you with his love, grace, and protection. Claim that promise.
Matters may be way beyond your control; you cannot fix most of them. But, deep in your heart, you can remember, that with God, all is well and peace will reign.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.