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Lenten Devotional: March 11, 2023

“It Is Well With My Soul”

by Mandy Houston

According to the well-known Life Is Good Company, “Life IS good.” When we are in great health, and our children are thriving, and our bank accounts are flowing, life seems pretty good, doesn’t it? But what if disaster struck? Not once, but numerous times. What if your “good life” was taken away in an instant?

This is what happened to Horatio Spafford, the man who wrote the lyrics to the inspiring hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul.” If you don’t know the story behind this hymn, here it is in a nutshell: In 1871, Horatio’s wife, Anna, and their four daughters set sail from America to England a few days ahead of him. Horatio and his wife had recently lost their only son to scarlet fever, as well as most of their fortune in the Chicago fire of 1871. These two tragic events were a heartbreaking blow to the Spafford family’s “good life.” Horatio thought a vacation to England might help his family heal. Unfortunately, the ship that carried Anna and their daughters collided with another ship and sank. The telegram sent to Horatio from his wife after she was rescued stated, “Saved alone.” All four of their daughters had perished in the shipwreck. In another blink of an eye, most of what had remained in Horatio’s “good life” was lost at sea. As Pastor Bob preached on Ash Wednesday, “Dust in the wind….”

When Horatio later sailed over the exact location where this shipwreck occurred, the Lord gave him words of comfort and hope that we would later know as “It Is Well With My Soul.”

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll.

Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to know

It is well, it is well with my soul.

Horatio experienced God’s perfect peace…. the peace that surpasses all understanding. Even in his deep suffering, Horatio trusted in God’s promises, His faithfulness, and His perfect plan. Horatio’s unimaginable loss did not change who God is. God is good all the time and in all circumstances. He sent Jesus who suffered and died for sinners…. for you and for me. Jesus’ sacrifice rescued us from the slavery of sin, allowing us to be delivered from sin’s eternal punishment. Horatio trusted in Jesus and did not waste his suffering. He used his suffering to glorify God by sharing it with others through the lyrics of this beloved hymn.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen" —Ephesians 3:20-21

Meditation: When your circumstances make it more difficult to say, “it is well with my soul,” who or where will you turn? Where will you find peace and joy? Will you waste your suffering, or will you use it to glorify God?


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