Recently, I read the story about Horatio Spafford. During the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, he lost everything—all his fortune and all his real estate investments. His family experienced a devastating blow.
Horatio desperately wanted his wife and four daughters to find rest from all the chaos, so he planned a European trip for his family in 1873. Because of last minute business obligations, Horatio had to remain in Chicago, but he sent his wife and daughters ahead with hopes of joining them in a few days.
Tragically, on November 22, the ship carrying Horatio’s family was struck by a vessel and sank in twelve minutes. Several days later the survivors landed at Wales. Mrs. Spafford cabled her husband with these two words: “Saved alone.”
Immediately, Horatio left to join his wife. As he approached the area of the ocean where the ship carrying his daughters had sunk, he wrote these powerful, yet comforting words:
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot you have taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul
After reading this story, I searched my own heart: Is it truly well with my soul? In my tired and weary body, during frustrating long waits in traffic, when I receive devastating news or unwanted additions to my daily schedule . . . is it well with my soul?
Horatio’s story sheds light on this one fact:
Deep peace and soul assurance has nothing to do with our circumstances.
It’s easy to blame our daily trials for our soul’s unrest, for our bitter complaints and sleepless nights. Yet could it be that our unsettled hearts are a symptom of our displaced hope? Could it be that we have planted our feet too deeply in a temporal world that lacks the ability to bring us everlasting peace?
Psalm 46 has nuggets of truth that remind us to cling to God in all circumstances. We are reminded that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and mountains quake with their surging” (Psalm 46:1-3 NIV).
Beloved, you may have experienced many hardships in 2021. You may have been wounded by hurtful words, or beaten down by an unexpected trial, or perhaps you are having a hard time letting go of a mistake you made. Sorrows do come and the good days are sometimes mixed with bad days. Yet, what is true and constant is the fact that God is our hiding place, our strength, our refuge and our only faithful anchor in this world.
He helps us in our troubles and brings our souls to a stilled rest. He shelters our minds with his Word (Proverbs 30:5) and fills our hearts with his peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). If God is for us, who or what can ever be against us (Romans 8:31)? Horatio believed this truth and placed his hope in the Lord.
Is it well with your soul today? Have you planted your heart too deeply in this life? Are you completely trusting God to work out the details of your life beyond what you can see in the present?
Beloved, your heavenly Father personally loves you because you are his child (1 John 3:1). He promises to never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). He wants to be your refuge, your strength and your ever-present help in times of trouble. Choose to seek him even more.