My favorite hymn, by far, is “It Is Well With My Soul” but not just because of the beautiful message contained in those lyrics but because of the incredible backstory that led Horatio Spafford to write those lyrics.
Spafford was a successful lawyer but he had most of his property investments destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and his financial woes continued for years after.
In hopes of getting a fresh start, he planned to travel to England with his wife and 4 daughters but at the last minute he had to delay his trip to take care of some unfinished business in Chicago. He decided to send his family ahead of him but during the voyage his family’s ship collided with another vessel and sank, killing his 4 daughters.
Weeks later, as Spafford traveled to meet his wife in England, he wrote the lyrics to It Is Well With My Soul once his ship passed the point where his daughters died.
Most people who sing this hymn probably never realized that this beloved Christian hymns came about because of a terrible tragedy.
But isn’t that always the case? It seems that when times are good we tend to lean onto our own understanding and minimize our relationship with Jesus. I don’t know about you, but with me, I can honestly say that the closest I’ve been to Jesus has been during times when I needed Him the most.
The rest of Spafford’s life may have been mired in less than Christ-like behavior but never the less, it just goes to show you that God can work through sinful folks (in other words, everybody) to provide us with a comforting message in troubling times.
Kristene DiMarco and Bethel Music have an interesting twist on this hymn and the following stanza serves as a reminder that God has a plan and won’t allow our persecutions to continue indefinitely.
Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see
And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the mist of the sea
Yes, there are times when we wonder where God is and when these mountains that are before us will be tossed aside. As a Christian, it is comforting to know that through it all, it is well with my soul.