Can you and I praise the Lord after a series of tragedies?
This is what Horatio Spafford did. His four year old son died of Scarlet Fever. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 caused him financial ruin. The ship that his wife, Anna, and their four daughters took to go to England sank and all his daughters died. On the journey to join his wife amidst this tragedy, Horatio wrote the lyrics to the song “It Is Well With My Soul” which continues to be sung in churches today.
The song speaks of the supernatural peace that Christ’s love and sacrifice whispers to and fills the person who is stricken with sorrows, trials, and helplessness because he focuses on his goal of heaven; The greatest tragedy that he will ever face… his sins (which the Bible in Romans 6:23 says whose payment is death and Revelations 21:8 says consigns us to the fiery lake of burning sulfur in spiritual death) have already been nailed to the cross. God has taught him that whatever else comes his way, it will be well with his soul. In his current pain, his hope and rest is in the voice of the Lord; right now he may not understand and the pain is great but one day his “faith shall be sight”, he is suspending his understanding and allowing faith in the Lord to take him to the next step. By faith, he declares that because of the Lord, it is well with his soul.
Horatio and his wife Anna Spafford went on to Jerusalem and helped establish the American Colony, a group whose mission was to serve the poor. That colony became Swedish novelist, Selma Lagerlöf’s subject for her piece “Jerusalem” which won the Nobel Prize.
This is the story behind the song, “It Is Well With My Soul”: