“It is well with my soul. It is well, it is well with my soul.” I bet right now you have this tune running through your head. Whether it be the original Horatio G. Spafford version or the more current, Bethel Music’s take on some of the lyrics. If you are like me, there is just something about this song, those words, that you can’t put your finger on. It resonates at a level deeper than most other songs. For me, it’s often at the times when I am feeling the least faithful, the most doubtful, the times when life gets turned upside down and makes no sense, the time that I am under attack, that it really affects me.
But why? Why in the moments of despair would the lyrics “It is well with my soul” have any effect?
Maybe it has to do with the origin of the song. To understand the song is to understand the story. Horatio G. Spafford was a successful businessman and family man in Chicago in the late 1800’s. He had a wife and 5 children. He suffered tragedy after tragedy. First, his young son died of pneumonia. Then he lost almost everything in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 but was able to rebuild his business once again. He was supposed to go on a relaxing trip with his family aboard the Ville de Havre ocean liner to Europe. As is the case very often in business, something came up that needed attention. It needed attention that only Mr. Spafford himself could give. He stayed behind while his wife and daughters went ahead. He planned to join them as soon as the business matter was resolved. Unfortunately, the ship was sunk after colliding with another. Only his wife survived. He received word from his wife via a telegram stating, “Saved alone. What shall I do?” His wife waited in Cardiff-Wales for him to reach her. On the way, Mr. Spafford asked the captain to take him to the place where his daughters died, and that is where overlooking the water that took his daughters, he penned It is Well with My Soul.
How could he write those words when he had just suffered such tragedy and had yet to even be reunited with his wife? Where did that ability to stare tragedy in its face and still say “It is well with my soul.” come from?
That, my friends, is God’s mercy and grace. It is knowing that regardless of what life throws at you, that there is a God who loves you more than you can even imagine. Horatio G. Spafford knew this. He knew who he belonged to. He knew who had given him life and he knew at that moment that while he may not understand the circumstances, God does and always will.
The reason this song, these lyrics resonate during those times when I don’t understand, is simply because I am covered by grace and mercy. When nothing makes sense and I can’t hear God through the noise of life, He speaks through a song. Let God interrupt your thoughts. Let Him remind you that like with any storm that is swirling, it will eventually subside. In the meantime, speak words of His grace and mercy over yourself. Post it all over if you have to, even in your car. Let the words, it is well with my soul, remind you that He has you covered.