Intersection of Life and Faith

<< iPod Devotionals, with Dave Burchett

When Sorrows Overwhelm...

  • 2009 Nov 30
Normally the iPod Devotionals are devoted to a song that has been penned in the past few months or years. I usually don't flash back to the 19th century for material. But this has been a season of sadness for many people that I know and care about. I dialed up a  favorite old hymn as I thought and prayed for those who are enduring sorrow. I like the version that Chris Rice has recorded on his Peace Like a River CD. This is a song that has an amazing back story. It is a song born out of tragedy and soul crushing grief. Horatio Spafford was a real estate investor in Chicago in the nineteenth century. His first tragedy was losing nearly all his wealth in the Great Chicago fire in 1871. Spafford was a friend of famed preacher D.L.Moody and the ministry of the great evangelist helped him to recover. Two years later, knowing that Moody was going to speak in England, Spafford decided to take the family there. At the last minute a business conflict delayed Spafford's trip so he sent his wife and four daughters ahead.

On November 21, 1873, while crossing the Atlantic on the S.S. Ville Du Havre, the ship was struck by an iron sailing vessel and two hundred and twenty six people lost their lives, including all four of Spafford's daughters. Somehow his wife, Anna, survived. On arriving in England, she sent a telegram to Horatio with the words "Saved alone".

Can you imagine the devastation that Spafford felt? There was no internet or phones to comfort his wife. No direct plane flights to get there in hours. Horatio could only book his own ocean passage that would, ironically, pass the spot where his daughters had perished. It was in the Mid-Atlantic that Horatio Spafford penned the words to the song "It is Well with my Soul". Imagine his anguish as you read these words.

When peace, like a river,
Attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot,
Thou hast taught me to know,
"It is well, it is well with my soul"

Chorus: It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

So as I travel this tough patch of highway with my friends I remembered the words of Horatio Spafford.

"Whatever my lot,
Thou hast taught me to know,
"It is well, it is well with my soul."

Those lyrics have been a comfort through the sadness. I am grateful for Godly men and women who have shown us how to respond to sorrow. An unknown author once wrote that we have no right to ask when sorrow comes, "Why did this happen to me?" unless we ask the same question for every moment of happiness that comes our way. The man of many sorrows, Job, once said a very similar thing in the midst of his inconceivable grief.

His wife said, "Still holding on to your precious integrity, are you? Curse God and be done with it!" He told her, "You're talking like an empty-headed fool. We take the good days from God—why not also the bad days?"  (Job 2, The Message)

I am pretty sure that I would not phrase it quite that way to the lovely Mrs.Burchett. But his rationale was right on. We accept so many blessings and good days as our birthright. Jesus never promised that there would be no bad days. And the next line in Job is the bottom line.

Not once through all this did Job sin. He said nothing against God.

It is important to note that Job was extremely honest with God. He clearly communicated his anger, frustration, and anguish. But he did not sin.

I hope that it is well with your soul. It helps peace to fill your heart when when you hit those inevitable seasons of life where sorrows like sea billows roll.


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