Its been about 140 years since Horatio Spafford penned the words to this old and much-loved hymn. For years it’s been a favorite song of mine. Do we know what this guy went through? He was financially ruined in 1871 by the Great Chicago Fire. Several years later him and his wife and four daughters decided to take a trip to Europe. Last minute he had to stay back and the ship sank. He lost his four daughters. Then they had another son and he died at the age of four. Their Presbyterian church regarded their tragedy as divine punishment. Horatio was a nineteenth century Job.
The other Sunday in church the worship leader picked this song. I connect deeply with it. It is one of those songs that brings the presence of God into my deepest soul. With arms outstretched and foot tapping to the beat I was singing “Whatever my lot, you have taught me to say, It is well,it is well with my soul.” At the most emotional moment a voice whispered to me. It was a voice unpleasant and dark. A voice condemning. A voice that I do not listen to. The voice of darkness. The voice sneered and said,”So you say. What if you actually had trouble in your life? What if you lost a loved one? What if your fondest dreams were crushed?”
It put me on a search as I explored my feelings and faith. Yes, I am enjoying life. The last few years have been an exceptional springtime of the soul. I have been happy. But my thoughts went back a bit further to those days of confusion and hurt. When there was not springtime in my soul. When it seemed like the very sun was setting in my soul.
When I was 21 years old I had to decide if I wanted to live in the comfort and happiness of my family and friends, or whether I would boldly follow God into the unknown. Into a world and culture I knew nothing about. It was a hard decision but I answered the call of God. I was deeply hurt at losing my family.But still I said, “It is well with my soul.” Then God provided countless dear friends from all over the world that became like family. Just to show me that he cared. As if that weren’t enough, he restored the relationship with my family to a better place than I could have ever imagined.
Unfortunately I am no stranger to death either. A good friend of mine, Aaron, was shot multiple times and beaten beyond recognition. We had been friends for a long time. I thought he would always be in my life. But he wasn’t. Another friend was killed instantly in an accident. You just can’t get used to it. But each time I said,”It is well with my soul.”
But the time that it was really hard to say was when I lost my friend Daniel. You know how sometimes [they are rare] you meet a friend who just gets you? That was Daniel. He knew so much about me but just accepted me. We were best friends. And then one day he was gone. Never again would I see his smiling face, hear his bubbly, contagious laugh or sarcastic remarks. That was the end. And that was hard. I admit I questioned God for months. “Why,” I demanded to know.
But God didn’t say why. Instead he said,”The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Jason, can you bless my name? Still?” Before I even answered he piled another question on the list. “My grace is enough Jason. Do you believe this? Do you? Come on, say it if you do!”
Sometimes it took me most of the day to say it. But every day for months God asked me these questions. And every day I struggled through them. Every day, by the end of the day I would pause before God and say,”The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be your name. And yes God, your grace is enough.” It is well with my soul.
So yes, I might be enjoying life. I don’t need a miserable existence and deep hurts to say it is well with my soul. In my deepest moments of need God showed me His grace was enough and he helped me to say it is well with my soul. And I know the same God who helped me valiantly at that moment will help me next time and I shall say “it is well with my soul.”
Voice of darkness go. You are not welcome here.