It Is Well

There’s been plenty going on this last 15 months that doesn’t sit well with us, hasn’t there? As I sit to write, more than three million people have died with COVID ¹. Many have lost jobs, incomes, homes, or loved ones. Opportunities planned and hoped for haven’t come to pass. Many have found themselves grieving over a future not yet lived or the taking away of any kind of future certainty.

Where do we turn for any sort of stability and security in seasons like this?

Horatio Spafford was born in New York in 1828, and God blessed him and his wife with five children and considerable wealth. Horatio was a lawyer and owned property. 

In 1870 his then four year old son died of scarlet fever, and a year later much of his property was lost to fire. Then, in 1873, tragedy struck again. Whilst crossing the Atlantic on their way to England, the ship carrying Horatio’s wife and four daughters was struck by another vessel and sank. Horatio was delayed due to business and was not onboard. His wife, Anna, survived and cabled her husband and included the phrase “saved alone”.

All four of his daughters died. 

Horatio dropped everything and set off for England to be with his wife and whilst on the journey the captain told him they were passing over the very spot where that fateful ship had sunk. Horatio returned to his cabin and wrote the hymn ‘It Is Well With My Soul’

His life had further ups and downs, as all do, and he died in 1888 of malaria. He entered into the rest of his Saviour and was buried in Jerusalem, where he had been caring for the sick, poor, and orphaned along with Anna.

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

If Horatio Spafford can experience such peace and comfort in a time of such horrible, gut-wrenching loss, then so can we.

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 was well with his soul, as he wrote, because he knew that in his own words,

“We passed over the spot where she went down, in mid-ocean, the waters three miles deep.

But I do not think our dear ones there…

they were safe…dear lambs…

This wonderful hymn encourages us to praise our gracious God no matter what the circumstances, for, as Paul writes to the Romans, I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Scripture references – Psalm 42.1–11, 103.1–22, Romans 8.31–39

¹ –

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

One thought on “It Is Well

  1. Thank you James! Your messages are so often just in time for a good look at my (miserable) life – “It is well with my soul”.
    Even though I’ve long felt this curse of melancholy – nowadays called depression – hanging over my life, when I think of all the hardships present and past in my family, and I just cannot get past it, or move that mountain in Jesus’ name.
    My grandmother survived 2 WWars, lost her brothers and fiance. She was widowed at the age of 52 at the end of the second WW, with my grandfather was taken into a Russian internment camp. His crime: being a capitalist, as director of the Deutsche Bank, Berlin.
    After managing to get into West Berlin 2 months before the Wall was built, she lived a modest and quiet life to the age of 102.
    My own father was killed at the front somewhere in Lithuania two months before I was born, and my dear mother, whose just gone to be with the Lord, struggled on to survive the aftermath of the war until she met my stepfather and my life at the age of six turned into hardship, but not altogether bad.
    O, yes I’ve had moments of joy and happiness in my 76 years, but hardship has never left me.
    Life becomes no easier as we grow old and my focus is often not on my eternal future, but looking back with many heartaches and regrets.
    Even though I’ve humbled myself before God and the throne of grace, or placed my burden at the foot of the cross where my beloved Jesus died, “healing all my diseases and forgiving all my trespasses”, I’ve not been able to fully experienced joy for ashes and a lifting of my heaviness.
    It seems that the burdens of my past are holding me captive and I am robbed of the joy of a fulfilled life.
    Still, I claim it is well with my soul! Because I realized a long time ago, that without HIM I am nothing.
    Thank you for this sad but excellent account of one so faithful to our Lord and Saviour.
    May the Lord continue to bless you and your church.

    Ps: my comfort apart from the Bible comes from teachings by Derek Prince, John MacArthur, Gary Hardwick, Paul Washer, and Jimmy Evans with his Hurt Pocket series, who was healed and set free from his past in a moment.
    Yet, my heaviness remains as though it’s stuck to my spirit.


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