In his book, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions, Kenneth Osbeck said, “Inner peace through an implicit trust in the love of God is the real evidence of a mature Christian faith. Only with this kind of confidence in his heavenly Father could Horatio Spafford experience such heart-rending tragedies as he did and still be able to say, ‘It is well with my soul.'”
Mr. Spafford (1828-1888) was a Chicago attorney who had known a life of peace, happiness and wealth. The father of four daughters, he was a member of the Presbyterian Church, and had supported many evangelists of his day, such as D.L. Moody. Life was grand for the Spaffords. Then came the great Chicago fire of 1871 which completely destroyed the family’s real estate investments.
His response to his losses was to later plan a trip to England with D.L. Moody’s music minister, Ira Sankey for an evangelistic campaign. Wanting to lift his family’s spirits, he also decided to take them on a vacation to Europe while he was abroad serving in the Moody-Sankey evangelistic meetings.
However, he was detained by urgent business, so he sent his wife and four daughter ahead with the intention of meeting them as soon as possible. But halfway across the Atlantic ocean, their ship, the S.S. Ville du Harve was hit by an English ship and went down in just twelve minutes. All four Spafford daughters perished, leaving Mrs. Spafford among the small group of survivors.
On the way to meet her in Cardiff, Wales, Mr. Spafford stood for hours on the deck of the ship which carried him to meet his grieving wife. When it neared the spot where his daughters had been lost, he received the sustaining, merciful comfort from his loving God. He was inspired to write, “When sorrows like sea billows roll. . . .It is well with my soul.” May you and I also experience such hope in times of tragedy and loss.
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.
Tho satan should buffet, tho trials should come, let this blessed assurance control, that Christ has regarded my helpless estate and shed His own blood for 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 and the Lord shall descend, “Even so”–it is well with my soul.
It is well. . . .with my soul. . . .It is well, it is well with my soul.