Why Is It Well With My Soul?

When David saw that his servants were whispering, David perceived that the child was dead. Therefore David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” And they said, “He is dead.” So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. (2 Samuel 12:19-20)

Why Is It Well With My Soul?

The hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” is one of the most influential and enduring songs written. Singing the hymn is a moving experience of the deep emotion set as the backdrop to a terrible event that happened to the author of the hymn, Horatio Spafford. The Spaffords had suffered the loss of their four-year-son, and the 1871 fire in Chicago financially ruined the family. Horatio had been a successful lawyer who invested heavily in the area of Chicago that was destroyed by the fire. In 1873, the family suffered an economic loss when things took a turn for the worse. Deciding a trip to Europe was needed for the family; the Spaffords booked to travel on the SS Ville du Havre to join D. L. Moody in an upcoming evangelistic tour in England. At the last minute, Horatio could not go and sent his wife and four daughters ahead.

Tragically on the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, the SS Ville du Havre collided with another ship, the Loch Earn, and sank quickly. Horatio’s four daughters perished, and only his wife survived. When she arrived in England, she telegraphed her husband a simple telegram, “Saved alone.” Rushing to her side, Horatio came to the place where the SS Ville du Havre had sunk, and his daughters perished and wrote the words of the hymn. Originally the hymn was called Ville du Havre, from the name of the stricken ship. Philip Bliss put the words to music in 1876, and it has become the hallmark of hymns describing the deep pain of loss but the resilient spirit of hope in Jesus Christ.

How is it possible to have hope in the face of such sorrow? What brought Spafford to write that it was well with his soul when the sadness of loss overwhelmed him like the rolling sea billows? Many answers can be given. Those who have suffered this loss are the only ones who truly know the depth of pain the Spaffords suffered that day. What is found as the pinnacle of hope in the song is the spirit of promise that God has given His children that whatever happens to them in life, God has taught His children to trust Him and know that all can be well with their soul. This will not take away the searing pain of loss. It will find a place to live with the emptiness and void that is left.

Perspective has much to do with the value of life and how it is viewed. Job suffered the loss of ten children in one event in one day. There were ten burial gowns made for his children. Ten burial plots were chosen. One funeral for ten children. How can anyone endure this kind of loss? All of the sufferings of Job came from the loss of everything else. He was a very wealthy man who became a very poor man in an instant. And then he lost his health. He did not sin, and he did not blame God. There were times of struggle, and he debated his friends, and he would find himself questioning the will of God, but Satan could not destroy his faith and trust in God. Most would have cursed God and given up hope. Not so with Job. He sang long ago, “It is well with my soul.”

David was punished with the death of his child born to Bathsheba. He knew the cause of the child’s death was the consequence of his sin with Bathsheba. It should be remembered that Bathsheba lost a child that day also. David and Bathsheba mourned their child and were able to continue to serve God in faithfulness. When he knew of the child’s death, he dressed himself and worshiped the Lord. Afterward, he returned home to eat. The servants were nervous about how David was acting. He assured them he was of sound mind. He was at peace with the will of God.

How can it be well in the soul of one who has suffered such great loss? The wellness of the soul is the peace found in the love of God and His protective care that He knows, He understands, and He has a family that embraces those who mourn. There is no family like the family of God made up of people who share their loss as a victory in Christ to overcome. The joy of eternal life is when the Father wipes away all the tears from the eyes. Those eyes that mourn their loved ones gone too early. It is possible to be well in the soul. Find your comfort in God, in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the family of God. It is well with my soul.

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