Where is God when bad things happen to good people?

It Is Well with My Soul

Horatio G. Spafford

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has 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.

(Click here to hear song)

The telegram read:

“Ship sunk, I alone am saved”

I dare say that many of you have heard this song before, as it is a classic; but how many of you have ever heard the story behind it; and the circumstances that caused it to be written?

Horatio Spafford was born on October 20th, 1828 in North Troy, New York. He was a successful lawyer in Chicago, and was a personal friend with the famous Evangelist Dwight L. Moody.

You’ve heard the saying when it rains it pours, well listen to what happened to this man.

First of all, it was sometime prior to 1871, and the Spafford family loss their only son due to illness.

Then there was this huge fire in Chicago, perhaps you’ve heard of it, it was called the “Chicago Fire.”

Horatio and Dwight L. Moody were close friends; and being also a very committed Christian, he had wanted to surprise his friend, as Moody was overseas in Europe ministering; and so he had purchased considerable properties along the lake front, that was to be used for the Moody ministry.

Well the Chicago fire literally devastated the entire city, and it completely wiped him out.

It was now two years after the fire, and the Spafford family had planned a vacation to Europe, to help ease the pain after the loss of his son, and also his property.

However on the day they were to depart, Spafford had a last minute business meeting, and had to stay behind in Chicago. It had something to do with the city sorting out the loss of property due to the fire; and finding out who owed what.

Anyway, not wanting to disappoint his family, he sent his wife and four daughters on ahead, and the plan was that he was going to join them later, after he had completed his business.

So he saw them off, and loaded his family on the S.S. Ville du Harvre, and was expecting to join them in just a few days; but on November 22nd, the S.S. Ville du Harvre was struck by another ship, an English vessel, called the Lockearn, and the ship with his wife and daughters on it sank in just a few minutes.

After the survivors were finally landed in Cardiff, Wales, Spafford’s wife cabled her husband with the news, “All was loss, and I alone am saved.”

Shortly afterwards, Spafford boarded another vessel to join his wife; and on the way, as they were passing by the spot where the ship had sunk, where his four daughters had drowned, he happened to have a pen in his hand and he penned the words to this song, 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, 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.

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!

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.

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of 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 noteworthy that though heartbroken over the loss of his son; then there was the fire and loss of property; and now all four of his daughters are gone, due to this tragic accident, even after suffering all this loss, Spafford was still able to find solace and comfort in the knowledge that truly God was in control; and though surely he and his wife grieved bitterly over their loss, they nevertheless placed their faith and trust in God, that He would somehow, as He promises for all of us, work this too out for their good.

So truly they could say, as we also can say, when life happens to us, and we suffer loss… that God is still on His throne, and we also can say, with Horatio Spafford that it is “Well with my soul.” Selah


Skip Barland

From: RBC Ministries [mailto:donotreply@rbc.org]
Sent: Thursday, May 27, 2010 9:16 PM
To: theskipper@cox.net
Subject: Our Daily Bread — May 28, 2010

May 28, 2010

Our Times— His Hands

ODB RADIO: Listen Now | Play MP3 (Mobile)
Psalm 31:1-16

“You are my God.” My times are in Your hand. —Psalm 31:14-15

In a message to the 2002 graduates of Cedarville University, Dr. Paul Dixon encouraged them with these words: “Your times are in God’s hands.” Our family listened and thought it was appropriate for the graduates, which included our daughter Julie.

We had no idea that in 5 days our 17-year-old Melissa would graduate to heaven through a car accident—and we would be left to recall with new meaning that thought from Psalm 31:15.

Over the years, we have become painfully aware that in God’s mysterious ways, He has planned for some Christians a life that is short.

I think of one young Christian girl, the kind with a smile for everyone, who had a sore finger—and a week later was dead from a raging infection.

Or the young believer who was killed while playing softball when a ball hit her in the neck.

Or the teen boy who loved Jesus and fishing—and died when a car hit him as he rode his bike home from the fishing hole.

Melissa, Heather, Maggie, and Thomas. In their short lives, they created a legacy of faith in Jesus and love for others. They were ready when His time for them had come.

“I trust in You,” the psalmist said, recognizing that his life was in God’s hands alone (vv.14-15). Are you trusting God for whatever comes next on your calendar? —Dave Branon

Sovereign Ruler of the skies,
Ever gracious, ever wise,
All my times are in Your hand,
All events at Your command. —Ryland

Our times are in God’s hands; our souls are in His keeping.

To read today’s Our Daily Bread online visit our website.
Copyright © 2010, RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI 49555 USA. Written permission must be obtained from RBC Ministries for any further posting or distribution. RBC Ministries produces a variety of Bible resources, which are available for the asking. RBC Ministries is not funded by any group or denomination, and support comes voluntarily from its members and friends. Write rbc@rbc.org for more information.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

This message was sent from RBC Ministries to theskipper@cox.net. It was sent from: RBC Ministries, 3000 Kraft Ave, Grand Rapids, MI 49512. You can modify/update your subscription via the link below.


This is an open forum where we look into and investigate the Rhema Mysteries of God's Word; and also other issues of importance for our day and time.

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