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 has shed His own blood for my soul.
It is well, (it is well), with my soul, (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, the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
(written by Horatio Spafford, composed by Philip Bliss)
Yes, it is…well with my soul, that is. Despite daily blow-torching by Star Wars, mounting physical fatigue, and the daily stress of not being able to do all that I am accustomed to doing, it is well. Despite losing my cool and my marbles and sometimes lots of tears, it is well with my soul.
Today was the last meeting with Star Wars. Nothing personal to the efficient technicians, but I hope to never lay eyes on them, again, at least not in this life…unless we happen to frequent the same coffee shop, or church, or Moe’s. I’ll probably say ‘Hey,’ or something equally endearing. Otherwise, have a blessed life torching other cancer survivors. Thank you for your kindness.
As for me, driving toward work, the above song bubbled to the surface of my mind and I sang it all the way out the expressways while traveling toward my destination. My heart was warmed by a memory from decades ago at a former church when that song became very dear to Gary and me and nearly an entire congregation. I remember the notes soaring in harmony all around me as the fellowship, after weeks of revival, could sing with clean hearts and souls, “It is well with my soul,” and mean it with every fiber of our being.
As I sit here writing, I wonder how many times I wait for circumstances to be what I perceive to be ‘good’ before I allow myself to say or believe ‘it is well.’ How many positives need to line up in a life before we think God allows us to be at peace with our souls?
If you’ve been around hymns for many years, you probably know that the writer of this hymn had faced financial ruin from the Chicago fire and the economic downturn of 1873. Immediately afterward, he placed his wife and four children on a ship bound for Europe, planning to join them soon afterward. However, the ship sank, drowning all four of his children, leaving only his wife. When Spafford crossed the sea to join his grieving wife, he wrote the hymn, “It is Well With My Soul.” While many regarded what happened to him as divine punishment, he did not believe that God was a punitive God. He and his wife continued to serve God for the rest of their lives.
I tell you this story, which I first heard as a teen, (like, 100 years ago), because I sometimes think that even today we have a tendency to question, at times, (whether aloud or quietly), when ‘bad’ things happen to us if God is punishing us…or someone we love. When I served as a hospital chaplain, numerous people asked me what they had ever done to deserve what had happened to them or to a loved one, or why God would do this to them, etc.
My question is, what kind of Father do we believe He is?
Is He an accountant, always keeping books on you? Is He an authoritarian, waiting to spank you when you color outside the lines? Could He be a clock watcher, watching to see how much time you spend reading your Bible and praying? Is He always criticizing you in your mind? Who IS He, really?
Or – can it be well with your soul, regardless of life’s circumstances because He is… everything you need, always, forever. After all, it really doesn’t depend on you or your performance; it never did; it never will.
[Due to requests to keep writing, I am considering doing a once a week blog. If you think you might be interested in this, please leave a comment in the comment section to let me know. Thank you for walking this journey with me; I can’t express how much I have appreciated you and your feedback!]