This past week I have been discouraged. Along with personal discouragements, I’m tired of the constant barrage of “bad news” around the world from the pandemic to the protesters to the riots. Conflicting reports of what happens, who said what, predictions of both good and bad in the economy. It’s been getting to me.
But this morning in one of my email devotions I received this:
James 1:12: ” Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
Horatio Gates Spafford was a 43-year-old Chicago Businessman who suffered financial disaster in the great Chicago fire of 1871. He and his wife, still grieving the death of their son who had died shortly before the fire, were in great need of a retreat, and decided to take their remaining children to England for a vacation. Their friend Dwight L. Moody would be preaching in evangelistic campaigns there that fall, and so Spafford arranged to send his wife and four daughters ahead of him on the SS Ville du Havre. He planned to follow in a few days.
During the voyage on the Atlantic Ocean, the Ville du Havre was struck by an iron sailing vessel and sank within 12 minutes. Two hundred twenty-six lives were lost – including the Spafford’s four daughters. When the survivors were brought to shore at Cardiff, Wales, Mrs. Spafford cabled her husband two words: “Saved alone.”
Spafford booked passage on the next ship. As they were crossing the Atlantic the captain pointed out the place where he thought the Ville du Havre had gone down. That night, Spafford penned the following words:
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.
Spafford lost his business and his children but found comfort in His savior.
Here are the other verses:
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!—
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!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when the 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.
Paul wrote to the church in Corinth (2, chap. 12):
“…I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Sometimes it feels like “saved alone” like Mrs. Spafford felt, but for those of us in Christ it’s “saved together.”
12Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
Discouragement will come; disillusionment will come; fear, worry, stress, all parts of our existence on earth. But none are more powerful than the peace that Jesus whispers into our soul, the peace that passes all understanding.
We can indeed sing “It is Well with My Soul.”