When Your World Falls Apart: Thoughts on It Is Well With My Soul

Have you ever heard of a man by the name of Horatio Spafford? Probably not. He lived back in 1828-1888. He lived in Chicago, and was a successful businessman.

In 1871, there was the Great Chicago Fire…one of the greatest disasters of their time, similar to how Hurricane Katrina was a disaster in our time. Many people lost all their possessions. Worse, Horatio Spafford’s son had died of scarlet fever at the age of 4 just prior to the Chicago Fire.

It was around that time that Mr. Spafford decided to make a new start, and to move his family overseas. He arranged to sell what was left of his property, and he bought tickets for himself, his wife, and his four daughters on a ship to take them to Europe. From there, they would move to Jerusalem.

Right before the ship was to set sail, Spafford found out that one of the sales of his property had fallen through. So he sent his wife and his daughters on ahead, while he went back to take care of the sale of his property. He would take the next ship and join them in Europe.

A few days later, Horatio Spafford received a telegram. It was signed by his wife. And there were only two words on it. “Saved alone”.

The ship that Horatio Spafford’s family was on was struck by another ship. It sank quickly. Spafford’s wife made it. But his four little girls did not. They lost their lives when the ship went down.

Spafford soon sailed across the Atlantic to join his grieving wife in Europe. While he was halfway across the Atlantic, the captain called him to the bridge. He pointed out the exact location that his daughters lost their lives, as they sailed past it.

It was then that Spafford wrote the words to a poem.

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.

There is one thing that is certain about life, and that is life is uncertain. Sometimes you make plans for your life, and the plans go up in flames. One minute you might be surrounded by your loved ones. The next moment you may be all alone. Sometimes things happen that in a million years you can never explain.

It’s easy to say that you have faith in God when things are good. But when things go bad, which they invariably will from time to time, during those moments can you say…whatever my lot, it is well with my soul?

The question is…how could a man who lost his son, lost his business, lost his four daughters…possible say that things were well with his soul?

People in the world look everywhere for peace. Banks and insurance companies say that having money, that’s what brings you peace and security. If you go to a store, you’ll see them sell aromatherapy candles and shampoo and soap that are supposed to bring peace to you. Some say that listening to light music can bring peace to you. Or seeing Therapists. Or doing meditation and yoga.

But this is all peace as the world gives. These things might bring some temporary relaxation, but they don’t bring peace to the soul.

True peace only comes from one source.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

In life, sometimes things can get chaotic.

Sometimes you will feel alone. Sometimes you will feel afraid. In this world we will have trouble. That’s guaranteed.

But the remarkable thing is, when you really know Christ, you have the blessed assurance that you’re never really alone. And because of this you never need to be afraid. Because as chaotic as life gets, He has things under control. He will not leave you alone. He’s already done all he can, by taking your sins away–not because we deserve it, but because of His love. And nothing can separate you from that love.



When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well 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 has 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 the 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 pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of 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.

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