I woke up on this week with such a heavy heart. My heart is heavy trying to understand what is happening in our world today. Like many of you, I’ve had feelings of frustration, anger, hopelessness and sadness. I question where the good is in all of this and how are we going to overcome so much hate in the world.
Then, as I was praying, God brought me back to an old hymn that many of us sing today, “It is Well with my Soul”. The words in this song have brought many people so much comfort and peace over the years. As I listened to this song over and over again over the past couple of days I wanted to find out who wrote the song and what caused him to write such powerful words.
It is Well with my Soul was written by Haratio Spafford. He was a wealthy Chicago man, a thriving lawyer, a husband, a father to four daughters and one son and he was a devout Christian.
At the very height of his financial and professional success, Horatio and his wife Anna suffered the tragic loss of their young son. Shortly thereafter in 1871, he lost almost every real estate investment to a great Chicago fire. In 1873, Spafford scheduled a boat trip to Europe to give his wife and daughters for a much needed vacation. Spafford sent his wife and daughters ahead of him while he remained in Chicago to take care of unexpected business.
Several days later he received word that his family’s ship had encountered a collision. All four of his daughters drowned and only his wife survived.
Spafford had experienced so many tragic events that most of us would never experience in our entire life.
He booked the next ship to go and be with his grieving wife, Anna. As he was on the ship the captain called Spafford up and showed him where his daughters took their last breath. As Spafford looked over the ocean I can only imagine the emotion that he must have been feeling. Not only did he lose one child, but all four daughters. He probably felt a lot of what many of us are feeling today: Anger, frustration, hopelessness, and a sense of loss.
Instead of becoming angry, he reached out to God for help on the only thing he knew to hold onto: his faith.
He immediately went down to his cabin and wrote the words to It is Well With My Soul. Here are some of the powerful words that he wrote:
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 (it is well),
with my soul (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 hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
These words are powerful. Horatio knew what it was like to almost loose everything. He knew that the only peace that could settle his soul was the peace that comes from God. That is what the world needs today! We need to get on our knees and pray like we have never prayed before. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus even when it looks hopeless, and we don’t know what to do.
3 things to do in when things look hopeless:
1. Pray - Hold on to these words from Phil. 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus.” When you don’t know what to do, pray! Prayer should not be our last resort but we need to realize that it’s our only option. When we pray, things happen!
2. Seek – God desires to have a relationship with you. He wants to hear your desires and your hurts.
Matthew 6:33, “ But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Deut. 4:29, “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
1 Chron. 16:11, “ Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”
When we spend time with God we can’t help but be filled with who He is. Filled with his peace, strength, love and hope.
3. Love – We need to love those around us. Those who make us uncomfortable, those who don’t look like us and show love to all.
John 13:35:, “By this all men will know that you are my disciple, if you love one another.”
Mark 12:31, “The second is this, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself…”
I Cor. , “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
I John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…”
Love drives out fear. Where does fear come from? It comes from hurt. When we began to bring love it’s amazing how the fear will go away.
If you don’t know what to do, start by doing the above 3 things. Surround yourself with God’s work and Pray, Seek and Love.
I don’t have all the answers but I am trusting in something that is much bigger than me and believing that only He can bring HOPE to a hopeless situation.