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It Is Well with My Soul

Biblical Authority Devotional: Hymns of Praise, Part 4

by Tim Chaffey on September 22, 2011
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Tim Chaffey, AiG–U.S., provides the gripping background story for this inspiring hymn of comfort.

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.”
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20–21)

Incredible as it may seem, the man who wrote “It Is Well with My Soul” endured some of the most difficult trials imaginable. A respected lawyer, Horatio Spafford lost most of his considerable real estate investments in Chicago’s famous fire of 1871. In 1873, the ship carrying his wife, Anna, and their four daughters to Europe was struck by another ship and sank. All four of his daughters were killed. Anna survived and sent a telegram that opened with the words “Saved alone. What shall I do.”

Spafford soon left to join his grieving wife. He was greatly comforted by God when the ship passed over the approximate spot where his daughters drowned. This is alluded to in the words, “When sorrows like sea billows roll—Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well with my soul.”  

How could Spafford possibly proclaim “It is well with my soul” in light of the numerous tragedies he endured, including the loss of his young son to scarlet fever? The song reveals at least two reasons. First, he knew that all of his sins had been “nailed to the cross.” Second, look closely at the final line. It begins with two short words (“Even so”) quoted from the final passage of the Bible. He longed for Christ’s return because he was convinced that he would dwell with His Creator and would be reunited with his precious children.

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.
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!
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.1
Refrain:
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Today’s big idea: by relying fully on God, we can find comfort and peace in life’s darkest hours.

What to pray: cast all your cares upon Him.

Footnotes

  1. Lyrics retrieved from www.cyberhymnal.org. Music by Philip Bliss.

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