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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It is well, with my soul.

I am sure we all have a day or days, that hold a bitter memory. Yesterday was that day for me. On my way back home last night I was listening to a song, and a few words brought a smile to my face "It is well with my soul". The phrase rang/rings true.

I was not listening to the song known for the lyrics, "It is Well with My Soul" by Horatio G. Spafford, but it came to mind. If you do not know the story of Spafford and why he wrote such a beautiful hymn, please read on. It is very close to my heart.

Horatio G. Spafford was a very well-known, successful lawyer in mid-1800. The song was not written in the happiest time of his life. He was a man who suffered unfathomable tragedies. Yes, not tragedy, tragedies.

The Spafford's lives took a turn for the worse in the 1870's. Their only son, at the age of four, died from scarlet fever. Then, twelve months later, Horatio's real estate near Lake Michigan was wiped out by the great Chicago Fire.

After suffering two great tragedies, Spafford decided to take his family, wife and four daughters, on a vacation to England. Horatio and Anna were not famous in Chicago just because of his legal career but also because of their relationship with the famous preacher, D.L. Moody. Horatio knew his family needed rest, but also at the time, D.L. Moody was on an evangelistic campaign in Britain and needed Horatio's help. And so, they traveled to New York where, as a family, they would set sail for England on the 'Ville de Havre'. Unfortunately, right before boarding, Spafford had last minute business to take care of. He persuaded his wife and girls to journey on without him, and he would see them soon. So his family left for Europe while he traveled back to Chicago. Over a week later, he received a heartbreaking letter from Anna. It read, "Saved alone."

The 'Ville de Havre' had sunk in only 12 minutes after colliding with another ship. Over two hundred people died that day, including his four daughters Annie, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta. Their mother, Anna, had stood with courage on the deck holding her daughters tightly. The last thing, forever engraved in Anna's head, is her small baby being forced out of her arms by the rushing water. She had been spared only by a wooden board that miraculously came up beneath her unconscious body. When she awakened the horrible news crushed her. Anna recalled a voice telling her "You were spared for a purpose". The words of a friend rang in her head, "It's easy to be grateful and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God."

Horatio Spafford jumped on the next ship to England to join his wife. Upon crossing the very spot where the catastrophe had taken place, the captain notified him, "I believe we are now passing the place where the de Havre was wrecked." At that moment, Horatio returned to his cabin, where he wrote the lyrics that have been sung for over a hundred years.

I cannot imagine how I would have turned the situation around. He had lost his all his children and still found harmony with God. How incredibly beautiful, the moment where Horatio is at such peace in the storm, to create this hymn! The words give us such hope, that we too, can be blessed with such strength.

When the waters are crashing up against me, I like to picture myself, in that small cabin of the boat. I am sitting there, like Horatio, in the midst of the storm, singing the words...

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 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

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened … and you will find rest for your souls”
Matthew 11:28-29


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! I found this through a pin on Pinterest. This is a beautiful story and I'd never heard it before. I absolutely love the song, but knowing the story behind it makes it that much more beautiful.

    1. Kasey, I'm so glad you happen to stumble onto my page! I am thrilled to hear you enjoyed it...Thank you! It is an incredible song!