Editor’s Note: Ian posted this at his own site. It is a message well worth sharing. You can leave comments for him here or there.
Tomorrow, December 12th, is my birthday. I am tired. I’ve spent most of the past several days between the bed and the bathroom. Yesterday was the first day I “felt human” as it were, although I forced it at various points since then. I’m trying to maintain good spirits, and with your encouragement and God’s help, I have been successful despite the pain and bad news, especially of the last couple days.
Yesterday was fun. I was feeling good. I got a lot of work done. I was in a good mood. I even sang the hymn above while driving home from work. See, I grew up in a Church of Christ background, so hymnody is kind of a thing with me, even as I move on my path to Orthodoxy. I love singing, although I’m not terribly good I am also not terribly bad. Any man should be able to say that of himself, I think. You don’t have to be Frank Sinatra (also a 12/12 baby) but you can do better than “uhhh, I can’t sing lol.” All it takes is practice. Congregational, a-capella singing does that damn well.
In any case, yesterday was good up until I got to my house. Then everything turned to shit with great alacrity. But I still had this hymn in the back of my mind.
Horatio Spafford was a lawyer and Presbyterian elder. He was a friend of D.L. Moody. I’m not a Protestant anymore and have mixed thoughts on both Presbyterians and Moody, but generally it’s “you could do worse.” I don’t like getting into deep theology here, it’s not within the scope of this blog. He wrote this famous hymn after suffering great tragedy. See, he and his family were going to London to hang out with Moody and do the whole London Revivalist Scene in the mid-19th Century (I recently watched a good documentary on C.H. Spurgeon and it was a fascinating time, whether you agree or not), but business delayed his departure, so he sent his wife and his four daughters ahead of him on an ocean liner, and he would follow ASAP.
In a freak accident in poor weather, the ocean liner struck another vessel in the middle of the North Atlantic, and 2/3rds of the passengers on board were killed, including all four of Spafford’s daughters. His wife, upon her arrival in London, telegraphed him two words: “Saved alone.”
But this did not destroy the man. He went on to live a faithful life, and penned his famous hymn while on his voyage to rendezvous with his wife. The music was later added by Phillip Bliss, whose name is familiar to anyone of a Church of Christ background or a mid-19th-century-hymnody-fanboy (is that a thing? Do those exist?)
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 say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
(Refrain:) It is well (it is well),
with my soul (with my soul),
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pain shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
And Lord haste the day, when the 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.
Now, my life has had its share of loss. And things suck right now. But I can always have faith in our Lord and Savior that He will see me through. And I will always love, and be inspired by this hymn.