Opening my bible an old picture fluttered down that my daughter must have drawn ages ago. It was a Kuala bear resting in a beach hammock between two palm trees. The funny part was on the top of the page was written, “Death and the Cross.” She must have drawn the picture on some notes I was writing during a church service .
This reminded me of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “Do not lose heart, even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” It continues to explain that all the hardships we endure in life are light compared to the glorious weighted blessings in eternity. Because of this, don’t look at what is seen in the natural, because they are temporary, but look at what is not seen, because these are eternal.
There is an old hymn titled “It is well with my soul.” This inspirational song was written by a successful Chicago lawyer named Horatio Gates Spafford.
These lyrics were not written during an upswing in this man’s life, rather after almost unbearable personal tragedy. It began when his only son was killed by scarlet fever at the age of four. A year later the great Chicago fire had wiped out the shores of Lake Michigan, where Horatio had heavily invested in real estate, and lost everything. Aware of the toll that these disasters had taken on the family, Horatio decided to take his wife and four daughters on a holiday to England. The Spaffords traveled to New York in November to board the ‘Ville de Havre’ across the Atlantic. Yet just before they set sail, a last-minute business development forced Horatio to delay. Not wanting to ruin the family holiday, Spafford persuaded his family to go as planned. Anna and her four daughters sailed East to Europe while Spafford returned West to Chicago. Just nine days later Spafford received a telegram from his wife in Wales. It read:
On November 2nd 1873, the ‘Ville de Havre’ had collided with ‘The Lochearn’, an English vessel. It sank in only 12 minutes, claiming the lives of 226 people. Anna Spafford had stood bravely on the deck, with her daughters desperately clinging to her. Her last memory had been of her baby being torn violently from her arms by the force of the waters. Anna was saved by a plank which floated beneath her unconscious body and propped her up.
Upon hearing the terrible news, Horatio Spafford boarded the next ship out of New York to join his bereaved wife. During his voyage, the captain of the ship had called him to the bridge to show him the exact place the wreck had taken place, leaving the de Hayre three miles below them. Horatio returned to his cabin and penned the lyrics of his great hymn:
“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.”
What storms have you had to endure?
What tragedies have brought you to your knees?
Life can bring such bitter winds of adversity sometimes.
But just as opposites attract; death brings life.
Sorrow gives way to Joy when we look through the eyes of eternity.
Please pocket this hymn like a tear-stained hanky given to you as a gift.
Carrying the message close to your heart that these are only light afflictions compared to our eternal glory.
And when you are looking for someone to wipe away your tears,
reach deep inside and caress the ink stains of compassion
while echoing these words to your emotions:
“It is well, It is well with my soul.”