Can I say ‘It is well with my soul’?

It’s hard to say those words sometimes, especially when things aren’t going right, yet some of the most hard done by people have been able to say them over the years. People who have been in the most difficult situations and even people who have faced certain death have been able to say”it is well with my soul”.

The hymn “When peace, like a river”, more commonly known as “It is well” is a very influential and popular hymn in churches across the world today. It was composed by Horatio Spafford, a man of God who faced many tragedies in his life. Ranging from financial crisis to losing all of his family on a sinking ship, Horatio went through it all. All of his daughters died on a boat which collided with another. Only his wife survived. Spafford learnt this from the famous telegram “Saved alone”. However, through all these tragic events, Horatio was inspired and had the power to write “When peace like a river”. The lyrics go like this:

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, 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 trumpet shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

This hymn has stood the test of time, and has been incorporated into many sermons. More recently, the tune was used in a composition in remembrance of the Flight 93 victims who lost their lives fighting against terrorism. The piece is called “Flight of Valor“. One man who was on that flight was able to say “it is well with my soul” as the plane crashed in Pennsylvania, plummeting to the earth at an impact of 563 miles per hour.

How on earth can Horatio Spafford and the man who was on that United Airlines flight say “it is well with my soul”. How could Horatio praise God in the words that he wrote, yet not blame God for everything that had happened to him.
Because it was well with Horatio Spafford’s soul, and it was well with that man who was on that flight. In the book of Job, Job realises that it is the Lord who gives and takes away. But more than this, Job realised that our God is bigger and better than anything else that we can imagine. The Psalmist understood this concept too, for he writes,

“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
The Lord is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.”

There is great comfort in the hymn “It is well”. Despite Spafford’s trust, he realised that Christ sees our “helpless estate” and so he knows that sometimes we just find it immensely difficult to trust. When you ever get into a situation where you just cant see a way out of, turn to God. Talk in prayer. Ask for the ability to trust and as another hymn states “he will carry you through”.

To end, it important to say that we aren’t left up the creek without a paddle either after these tragic times come our way. God gives us great assurance and promise in his word, nothing more promising than Psalm 91:

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honour him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @