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It is well with my soul

December 18, 2019 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Today’s post is adapted from the August 15th, 2017 post.

 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:28-29)

If you have ever listened to K-Love, you know that they have an occasional segment called “Behind the Music” where a singer shares the story of where their song comes from. I often find that I develop is a greater emotional connection to the song when I know the heart behind the words. The same holds true for the classic hymns of the church. One of the most powerful “Behind the Music” stories is the story behind “It is Well with my Soul,” which was written by Horatio Spafford in the 1880’s, which I reference this past Sunday during our worship time.

The story goes that Spafford was a close friend and supporter of the evangelist D.L. Moody, who ministered out of Chicago while also traveling around to share the gospel message. In 1873, Spafford planned a trip to England with his wife and four daughters in order to assist Moody on one of his evangelistic campaigns in Great Britain. However, due to some unexpected business developments, he had to remain in Chicago and send his family ahead of him.

On November 22nd, 1873, tragedy struck as his family’s ship was struck by another ship and sank in the Atlantic. Only a small number of the passengers survived, including Spafford’s wife, who cabled her husband these words: “Saved alone.” All four of their daughters had drowned.

Spafford left as soon as he could for Wales in order to join his wife. As his ship crossed the Atlantic, he wrote the words to his most famous hymn:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way

When sorrow 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, 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 has shed his own blood for my soul

It is well with my soul, it is well, it is well, with my soul


My sin – O 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

It is well with my soul, it is well, it is well, with 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.

It is well with my soul, it is well, it is well, with my soul

God willing, none of us will ever experience anything as tragic as the sudden death of all of our children. But when you read the words of Spafford’s hymn, you find him relocating his focus from the tragedies of this world to the certainty of his salvation in Jesus and the promise of eternity, when God would banish all suffering and death once and for all and make all things new. May this song – and the story behind it – encourage you to trust in the Lord in your darkest hours.

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