IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL
A common hymn sung in Christian gatherings and church services is “It is well with my soul”. I’m sure you know the hymn. You must have sung the inspiring hymn a number of times. The hymn basically assures us that whatever comes our way, God is in control and His peace is with us. It’s a beautiful hymn but the circumstances that led to the writing of this hymn weren’t beautiful. The hymn was written by Horatio Spafford, a man who like Job in the Bible, experienced one tragedy after the other. At the peak of Horatio Spafford’s professional and financial success, he lost his only son. Not long after, nearly every estate he owned was destroyed by fire. Then a few years later, he lost his four daughters in one day while they were on a boat trip.
It takes nothing but pure grace to be able to declare in the face of a tragic loss and deep pain that it is well with your soul or to see any reason at all to continue to hold on to God and believe in God. In 2 Kings 4:8-37, the Shunammite woman’s son had just died in her arms, yet she was able to declare twice that it is well. Similarly, Job received several disheartening news. He lost all his livestock, all his life investments, all his servants, and he had to bury all his sons and daughters in one day. As if that wasn’t enough, he was afflicted with horrible skin sores. In the face of all the distress and disaster Job experienced, he makes a profound statement in Job 13:15 “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” In other words, even if God kills him, he would keep hoping in God. Job had the understanding that in times of pain and sorrow, God is still God, nothing can change that! So, the best thing he can do for himself is to continue to put his hope and trust in God.
How can one say it is well when it isn’t; when something terrible has just happened to you or a loved one? How can one say it is well when all the news you hear either on the TV or from the newspapers points to the contrary? One thing the Bible makes clear to us is that we won’t be spared from adversity. Jesus told us in John 16:33 that “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” The question then is what do we do when trouble comes? What do we do when we are faced with personal trials and challenges, family issues, or national chaos and calamity? We do what God tells us to do. In Isaiah 3:10 God says tell the righteous it will be well with them. We say it is well and we believe it is well. We say and believe it is well because God is able to use everything that has happened to us both the pleasant and the unpleasant things for our own good (Romans 8:28). We say and believe it is well because Satan is no match for our God. God is able to frustrate and make nonsense of everything the enemy has planned for us or every dart he has thrown our way. Can you imagine how foolish Satan and his well thought out plan for Job’s life looked when God restored Job and gave Job double of what the enemy took from him (Job 42:12-16)?
We can say and believe it is well when we don’t give in to fear or allow fear control us. Fear wants us to focus on just the “reality” the dead project, dry bones, empty bank account and all the negative circumstances around us and then accept all the cant’s the devil subtly whispers in our ears – it can’t work, it can’t happen, it can’t change. Faith on the other hand, helps us to go a step further. It shows you the reality, but it doesn’t end there. For the Shunammite’s woman, she wasn’t living in denial that her son was dead. Yes, she saw her dead son, yes she knew her son was dead, but she looked beyond all of that to a God that can reverse the irreversible. Faith helps you focus on the unlimited power of God. Faith in God is what makes one declare even in the face of a seemingly hopeless situation that it is well.
We say and believe it is well because we serve a faithful God whose love for us is everlasting. We can’t call on God, trust in God and end up as losers or with nothing but shame, pain and disappointment (Psalm 25:1-3). If like Job, the Shunammite woman, Paul, Jesus and so many other heroes of faith we stay connected to God even when problems of life want to disconnect us from God, then our faithful God will come through for us and give us reasons to rejoice. If God is for us neither death nor life, angels nor demons, nor any powers nor hard times can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:37-39). In other words, if God is for us we have nothing to worry about us. If God is for us and He is a God that never lies, then it is truly well with our soul.
PHOTO CREDIT: Paola Chaaya on Unsplash