Col 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” NIV
On December 1, 1873 Horatio Spafford received the following cable from his wife Anna: “Saved Alone”.
Earlier that year Horatio had bought tickets for his family to board the grand SS Ville du Havre, a French liner of luxurious proportions, for a trip to France. He and his family had suffered greatly from the great fire of Chicago in 1871, and Horatio knew his family deserved a long-overdue vacation. Shortly before they were supposed to leave, a business deal was offered to Horatio and to his regret, he had to remain behind in Chicago. He would catch up with his family later on in France.
The day of their departure, Horatio received a strong impression from the Lord to switch room reservations. He did so, then a moving farewell took place between him and his four girls, Anna, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta. They knew they would miss their daddy, and they couldn’t wait for him to join them in France. Little did Horatio know that this would be the last time he would see his four daughters alive. All four of them would drown in the disastrous wreck of the Ville du Havre. The cabin he had originally reserved was one of the first to be flooded with seawater, killing all of its lodgers instantly. Had he not changed the room reservations, he would surely have lost his wife as well.
When Horatio received the cable a few weeks later, he paced all night, saying nothing. It was evident he was suffering greatly. Finally he uttered: “I am glad to trust the Lord when it will cost me something.” (Havergak, Maria V.G. Memorials of Frances Ridley Havergal. New York: Anson, D.F. Randolph & Company, 1880, p. 59.)
While on his way overseas to join his wife, the ship’s captain solemnly showed him the exact location where the tragedy had occurred. While contemplating the Atlantic Ocean and mourning his great loss, he felt a deep conviction that although his girls’ bodies were somewhere three miles beneath him, they had escaped this world. Their Heavenly Father was keeping them safe in Hs arms, and eventually Horatio and his wife would see them again, for he knew that it was well with their souls.
Digging into his pockets, he pulled out some hotel stationery paper and a pencil and began scrawling. The following words poured out from his anguished faith-filled heart:
“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.
Thou Satan should buffet, tho’ 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, oh, 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.
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.”
As he mourned, Horatio could not stop praising the Lord. Deep inner peace filled him and he knew beyond a doubt that it was well with his soul. Philip Bliss later on composed the well-known hymn “It is Well” based on these words.
How would you react if such news awaited you? Would you be devastated beyond hope, or would you find solace in the presence of your loving Heavenly Father? Is Jesus your friend? Is all well with your soul?
(To access the entire “It Is Well, It Is Well With My Soul” devotional series, please click here.)