The Bare Soul - June 1, 2008
It Is Well With My Soul

Job 1:21b - ... The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.

Recently, a friend of mine wrote to me, describing an encounter he had with a man and his family. According to my friend, this man is angry with God because of seemingly unjust calamities that have plagued their household. Last year, they lost their four month old to SIDS, a negligent driver caused an accident that totaled their car, their house burned down and he recently broke his leg as a sub-contractor. He wants to know what else God wants from him. They're presently living in a motel. My friend and his wife listened and gave little advice. He said they felt like Job's friends with little ability to console. I wrote my friend back stating, "Yeah, what do you say to a guy who has gone through all that?". I told him that I would pray for the family, that they would ultimately understand God's love even when it seems that He has forgotten them.

Later in the day I was reflecting on this situation and I started humming and singing "It is Well With My Soul". I first thought, this is a curious thing to be singing this particular song while meditating on the woes of these unfortunate folks. Then, I remembered. It as if God allowed me to sing that song to be transported back to the time when I originally read the circumstances behind the writing of that powerful hymn. The following is from Wikipedia regarding the man behind the lyrics:

It Is Well with My Soul is a very influential hymn penned by hymnist Horatio Spafford and composed by Philip Bliss.

This hymn was written after several traumatic events in Spafford’s life. The first was the death of his only son in 1871, shortly followed by the great Chicago Fire which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer). Then in 1873, he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the S.S. Ville Du Havre, but sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business. While crossing the At­lan­tic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with another ship, and all four of Spafford's daugh­ters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone." Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.

Many times misconceptions can form in the minds of those who do not know the Lord. Some churches have fostered the delusion that once a person accepts Christ into their lives, they will have continual prosperity and no harm will befall them. If it does, it is because they have allowed Satan to come and rob them. A simple rebuke of the evil one is all that it should take to get the blessings flowing once again, they would say. This is not the case, in most instances. True, God does give to those who give their lives to Him. However, there can be those times of misunderstanding and confusion when the Lord begins to move contrary to what we consider the "blessed life". Look at Job. The man Job was a righteous soul, yet God had allowed his family and life to be ruined for no apparent reason. Was God making sport of him? Was he creating some "grand game" in the heavenlies so that He could get His chuckles at Job's expense? God forbid! Instead, He was proving to all that Job was a man of character and integrity. In the end, he would be more prosperous and closer to God BECAUSE of the calamities.

So what do you tell someone who does not know God, or if they do, they are so wrapped up in anger that they can't see any purpose in their dire predicaments? Nothing. Unless you have lived through similar heartaches and disappointments, you don't have counsel that will comfort someone when they encounter supreme loss. The best to do is to listen thoughtfully. However, there is an exception. If one understands and feels the heart of the Father for that individual, then yes, words of consolation will be received. These are truly words of life that have been grown in the garden of the Father's heart and are full of compassion and love. Horatio Spafford understood. God gave the man and his wife more children and he went on to create a mission to the poor in Jerusalem because of the heart that the Father gifted him with after his traumatic ordeal. It is all about perception, my friends. We can take on the bitter heart of an isolated soul that is angry for God dealing us a bad hand in life. Conversely, there is an opportunity to take and embrace our losses and watch our Heavenly Father turn them into mighty gains. As the old adage suggests: We all have the opportunity to grow bitter or better. Can you say with the hymnist today ... It is well, with my soul?

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.

It is well with my soul,
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 hath shed his own blood for my soul.

It is well with my soul,
it is well, it is well with 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!

It is well with my soul,
it is well, it is well with my soul.

And, 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.


Your Barefoot Servant,


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