As I sat in my prayer chair in the early morning this New Year’s Eve, I could hear her sweet voice singing as if she were right next to me. I could hear the stories she would tell me of her life and how Jesus never left her side. My precious Grandmother would always say “Lisa, it is well with my soul....no matter what." And one always knew, it truly was....always well with her soul. Until the day she died, no matter what she faced, her soul walked out peace with her Savior.
Jesus knew I needed to be reminded of this today. My heart was in pity party mode today, not New Year’s party mode. I am a planner, and my big plans for Christmas vacation were a bit altered. I found myself down the entire break with pneumonia. Not in the plan. I began to go down the “Why God?” road, until I played the song my sweet Grandma used to sing. “It is well with my soul”.
This song is about the testimony of a man who experienced a series of life-altering, tragic events. He lost his first son at the age of only four. Then without much of a moment to catch his breath, he also lost his financial livelihood and ability to properly care for his family. Subsequently then just two years later, as his wife and daughters traveled across the seas, the ship they were on sank and all four of his daughters died. His wife, the only survivor, sent the tragic news ahead to him and that she was the only one to make it home to him.
One would think that this man would have been crushed, quite possibly, for the rest of his life. And no doubt his heart grieved for the loss of his children. But the true testament of this man’s character is what his heart posture produced through the process of it all. Take a look at what flowed out from the heart of this man as he then traveled back by ship himself to meet his grieving wife, passing the very area where his daughters had died.
Horatio Spafford penned these words aboard the ship to meet his wife,
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
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 has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for 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!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of 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.
As I sat listening to the words of this song this morning, I was touched by the determination this man had in cultivating a lasting and intimate relationship with God. It was evident in how he lived his life and how he responded to even the darkest moments in his life. He did not allow his circumstances to dictate to him how he would behave and who he would become; rather, he found his anchor and true identity resting in His relationship with Jesus.
As this year nears its end and we reflect upon all that it has brought our way, may we rest in the peace of God’s embrace and sweetly declare, “It is well with my soul.” For whether it is peace like a river or sorrows like sea billows that we have encountered, even still, in relationship to Him, it is well because we know that God is passionately intentional about causing all things to work together for our good.
Now that’s cause for a celebration! It’s going to be a great 2012!