Tragedy. Pain. Loss.
How much more could one take?
Horatio Spafford, a successful lawyer and businessman, just buried his four-year-old son who had died from scarlet fever and then faced financial ruin when the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed much of his investment in Chicago real estate.
To deal with his grief, Spafford consumed himself in his work, helping rebuild the city of Chicago, and giving aid to the nearly 100,000 people who were left homeless from the devastation.
By 1873, the economy had become worse, and Sprafford planned to take his wife Anna and their four daughters to England to help DL Moody and Ira Sankey with their upcoming evangelistic crusades held there, and take a much-needed vacation afterward.
However, due to delays trying to solve zoning issues from the Chicago fire a couple of years before, Strafford decided last minute to send his wife and daughters ahead of him to England, promising to follow soon thereafter once he finished dealing with the business problems.
During the Atlantic crossing, on November 22, 2873, their ship Ville du Havre collided with the iron sea vessel Loch Earn, causing it to sink suddenly and 226 people, including all four of the Spafford daughters, drowned.
When Anna Spafford and the 46 other survivors landed in Cardiff, Wales, she cabled her husband a telegram (which has now become famous), saying: “Saved alone.”
Horatio immediately set sail to join his grieving wife in England. During the voyage, the ship’s captain came to Sprafford and said, “I believe we are now passing over the place where the Ville du Havre went down.”
As Spafford returned to his cabin, he found it difficult to sleep, so as the story goes, he went up to the railing of the ship, looked down into the sea where his daughters were now buried, and declared, “It is well; the will of God be done.”
A multitude of tragedy, pain, and loss.
Yet rather than look at the circumstances, the difficulties, or hardships, Horatio Spafford kept his focus on Christ.
While he may not have understood all that was happening or why, our beloved hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” was birthed from the focus and faith in Jesus amidst life’s stormy seas.
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.”
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control:
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and has 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!
O 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.
With Christ as our focus, we can stand confident that even if it doesn’t make sense, God “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Regardless of what tragedy, pain, loss, or difficulty you may experience, place your hope, focus, and trust in Christ alone. And may the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).
Know I am praying for you and cheering you on unto that end!