Hymns of Hope: Day 12

It Is Well with My Soul

by

Today's Text: Isaiah 66:12-13, 2 Corinthians 3:13-18, Philippians 1:12-26

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 66:12-13, 2 Corinthians 3:13-18, Philippians 1:12-26

“It Is Well with My Soul” has been a family favorite for generations. My paternal grandmother loved the song, and after she went to be with the Lord my dad would sing it often at church.  I’ll admit I didn’t fully understand what he was singing about. I understood the song was about submitting to God, but didn’t really understand how someone could say “It Is Well with My Soul” when “sorrows” were actually rolling like “sea billows.” At that point, my faith in God was built squarely on the idea that God proves His love to me by allowing good things to happen to me. I imagined God as a good-natured, yet principled, grandfather, who blessed good people with good things and punished bad people with bad things.

Thankfully, God destroyed that image.

I had constructed an image of God that was more like Santa Claus than anything else. Santa makes his list and checks it twice, then divvies out either gifts or coal, depending on a child’s behavior. I ordered my life around that idea: If I’m good, nothing bad will happen to me. If I’m bad, God’s going to punish me. It was a see-saw of prideful earning and shame-ridden failure.  

Eventually, the beautiful truth emerged that no matter how far I strayed from God, no matter how disobedient I’d been, the Father continued to display faithfulness to me, continued to pursue me, continued to receive me. And yet, another truth came to life: Life with God does not mean a life without pain. Surprisingly, experiencing the things I expected God to shield me from because of my “good behavior” has shown me that He alone is good. His unrelenting goodness toward me is never increased or diminished based on my actions.

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.”

Now I understand how Horatio G. Spafford could pen these words. Now I see that neither the joys nor the sufferings of this present life could ever compare to the great glory that awaits me in the life to come. With every undeserved grace He’s extended to me, God has given me the incomprehensible peace, soothing the stormy sorrows of my soul. Come what may, God is teaching my heart to sing a new song: It is well with my soul.

Both God’s goodness and greatness go far beyond what I can see with my natural eyes. It’s the Father’s goodness that sent Jesus to the cross for my sin. And it’s His greatness that raised Jesus to life, seating Him in heavenly places where He continues to intercede for me (Romans 8:34).

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!

Circumstances will change, but our God is steadfast and faithful—yesterday, today, and every day to come—and it’s because of His character that we are safe and secure. He is so much more, so much better than we could ever imagine Him to be.

 

It Is Well With My Soul
Horatio G. Spafford, 1873

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.”

Refrain:
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 has shed His own blood for my soul.    Refrain

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!    Refrain

O 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.    Refrain

SRT-HymnsofHope-Shareimage-Day12

Erin Rose lives and works in vibrant Richmond, Virginia, where she serves as Worship & Teaching Pastor at East End Fellowship.  She is a graduate of the University of Virginia, and is currently enrolled as a graduate student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  Erin is a member of Urban Doxology, a ministry that is writing the soundtrack of reconciliation for the church. Her greatest joy lies in leading God’s people in authentic worship, and teaching them the truth found in God’s Word. She also enjoys eating delicious food, spending time with loved ones, and indulging in the occasional Netflix binge.

  • Amanda Pritchett

    This hymn has been a favorite since I learned about Spafford’s story -why he wrote the song- while I was in college. My roommate had passed away in a car accident right before Christmas, and we were all barely functioning that semester (it was a small Christian school, we all were very close). One of my bible teachers taught us this hymn, and Spafford’s story, and it hit me hard, in all the feels. How could someone in the middle of losing all that he had, how could he, barely hanging on with barely a sliver of hope for life, how could he say that he was okay?? What kind of faith did he need to have to say that? The same kind of faith you and I have. The same belief. Simple enough. My sins are forgiven. Jesus died for me. Jesus loves me. I’m going to win in the end. So I can stay here, and tell y’all about it, or I can go to heaven and sing praises to Him. Either way, it’s awesome. This changed my heart so much. Since then, through all the big ups and downs in my life, this hymn has been like a mantra in my heart and in my mind. When things are up, I can praise Him. When things are down, I can praise Him. Through it all, I know, it is well with my soul. In the end, I am confident in Him, in his faithfulness, in his love for me, and it is because of this confidence that I can also say, it is well with my soul. :)

  • I’m struggling with my walk with Christ. Struggling to believe he’ll come through for me. I sinned in my past so why would God let me move forward? I’ve waited so long for a husband, and nothing not even a cuppa bought for me after church service, no interest from Godly men, (but lots of interest from ungodly men.) I keep being told I’m lovely just the way I am, that I have a good servants heart and pretty and quite slender – I serve in the house of God in many areas – catering, powerpoint, creative things, choir, babysit for many different families watch them grow up and watch them marry too. And I’m just left. I’m just furniture, overlooked. Friends and family also dont know why.

    • Amy

      Dear V
      I hear your hurting heart. Please know you are not forgotten and that God sees and loves you. I’m praying for you.

      • v

        thanks Amy. Thats funny you say those words, last sunday in the sermon the preacher said the same…. some of you think God has forgotten you. Yep thats exactly what I think, its hard to pray when I hear nothing, like its all falling on deaf ears. Yet the bible tells me God hears every word and sees my heart, yet still nothing….I believe God brought me to my church family. He planted me and gave me strong roots in this particular part of the world on purpose for his purpose. But surely not to be lonely? when Lord? I’m mid/late thirties! Im happy to see others moving on and having kids, yet I’d love to join in. I know Gods arm isnt too short. Ive faith for material things, food and finance…. Love by another is the only thing God wont do, he’ll never cause another person to love another person. I know theres no guarantee I’ll be married with kids in this life. And I know regardless I’ll stay with the Lord and stay where I believe he’s put me. My heart is hurting, I just want rest from this – if Jesus wants me to be single all my life, then I pray that he change the desire of my heart to his will and his plan. If he wants me married then I pray the peace in my heart whilst I wait this long wait. And I pray that my impatience doesnt carry me off course to the wrong man.

        • Shy

          Hi V. Im 54, never been married and no children. Sometimes when I see really good marriages I do feel as if I’m missing out. Even moreso it’s been hard not having children. I see so many children of friends and church family having the childhood I never had. It’s also difficult for me to see these families having a life that I’ll never have. I do get jealous at times. God has brought many children into my life over the years and I thank God for this. Currently I’m an Auntie to my best friend’s grandchildren, but I rarely see them anymore. I’ve become like an Auntie to an 11yo girl I’ve been bringing to church for a year. I’m the go-between for her Grandma and the church (Children’s and now Youth Ministries). I recently became like an Auntie to another 11yo girl whose family moved here from Haiti and goes to a Haitian congregation in our church. I’m a go-between with the parents simply because they speak little English (while the girl is practically fluent due to school). Yet I don’t fit in with the already established families in our church cuz I’m not the parent of these precious girls. I’m grateful and I love these girls and all of the other children God has brought into my life to fill a void. I’ll never marry or have children of my own. Not just because of my age, but because I believe God has let me know this and I’m okay with this much of the time. When I’m not, I go back to God about how I feel and that I’m also grateful for how He’s given me peace and joy in this area since my feelings are not truth. “Blessed assurance” can mean contentment, confidence – in Christ alone. I see that as giving everything to God and letting my confidence, contentment and trust in God’s control (sovereignty) in this area of my life comfort me. If you can accept the situation as it is now, pray the desires of your heart for a husband AND trust in His sovereignty in this area, then you are praying without desperation, yet honesty, and trusting God for the outcome. I’ve done this regarding children. He has brought them into my life and blessed me greatly. I’ve found contentment in not having children of my own as a result. When I feel jealous or left out, I lift it to God. I remind myself how much He’s blessed me by telling Him how grateful I am. You can do the same regarding a husband, yet trusting the outcome to God. Look up scriptures on contentment, confidence, and in trusting God. Pray these scriptures while trusting God for the answer HE will provide that will bring you contentment. Let go of jealousy as well by looking up Scriptures regarding this. Surrender to God in this desire. It may be then that He will provide the desire of your heart or He may change your heart to accept what HE desires for you. If you are comforted by hymns, go to Blessed Assurance and other hymns. They certainly helped me a great deal when I was struggling. All the best to you, V, with prayers and blessings. Jan

          • v

            thanks Jan, I knew I wasn’t the only woman going through this. I too have never had a boyfriend or been married. Yes I’ve learned to keep giving the desire over to my Lord. You know what its like, it just hits you like a flood and its true, the only thing that holds you together in those moments is the presence of God reassuring you that he’s got hold of you. He’s in control, He is sovereign, He is Lord of my life. He doesnt think, oh dear I didn’t think about that in my plan for your life, he’s planned good works for us to do each and every day, before any of those days came to be. I pray thanks to our Father that he has given you contentment with the path he wrote for you and the willingness to share it. I hope others read this and find encouragement like I have. thank you for sharing your heart. many blessings to you, V

          • v

            you said ‘God has let you know this’ ….. I read Corrie ten boon book The hiding place – God also revealed to her when she was 14 that she’d never marry, she also settled her heart with peace after this convo with our Father. After reading this book many years ago I wondered if God would say so to me – but he hasnt. All he seems to say to me on the subject is ‘wait’

    • Amanda Pritchett

      V, I hear your struggle and see myself in your story. I will tell you what I know… you are not alone. You are not alone in your struggle. You are not alone in your pain. You are not alone in your longing for the right person. You are not alone in your feeling forgotten. Satan wants you to wallow in the sadness and loneliness and wants you to believe that God has abandoned you because of your sin. He wants you to stay frozen, paralyzed. But God is not far. He sees you. He hears you. I have no answers for why he doesn’t respond to our pleas for husbands. It’s hard to wait patiently. It’s hard to say it is well with our soul when our soul aches for companionship. Seek the Lord, and as you find Him in the little things, your hope for bigger things will grow.
      I will pray for you, for the husband God is preparing for you, as he prepares you too. I will pray for a blossoming of hope, a growth of trust, and joy in the midst of all of this, so that you can say, in truth, it is well with your soul.
      Hugs from a sister who gets it… who’s been there and is still there… hugs.

    • Gari

      Oh dear, V. I understand your story. I understand your pain and your desires. I get the discomfort that comes with the waiting game. I have been there. It is very difficult to watch couples blossoming and growing right next to you every week at church and everywhere else you look. Take comfort my dear, because even when it seems like things are “so much better” being married, marriage is just another side of the same coin. The Lord uses marriage to stretch you in different ways than He does when you are single. I didn’t get married until my early 30s and I always wondered if I’d ever get married. My prayer for you is that you will find contentment in what the Lord has called you to right now, in this season. A husband is not the end prize, Jesus is. Everyone walks in different ways in different times. The Lord is working something in your heart. Believe me, you are not just furniture. Invite those married couples over and learn from them. Go have a game night at their house and get to know them. Spend time with other single women. I was in a heavily single community for a time and having a husband/being in a relationship with a man in general had become an idol in my life. I was letting men or the idea of being with a man give me more worth than the Lord. I prayed for months and months to be released from that. It didn’t happen overnight. When it did happen, it was like a huge weight lifted and I was able to truly rest in who the Lord created me to be as a single woman. It was such a relief and such a sweet time. I was more focused on those around me and that allowed me to serve them better. Marriage doesn’t make everything “better” or “easier” or “less lonely”. Married people still have the same struggles and concerns. Your sins and faults and everything are magnified with someone who knows you so deeply. You get hurt even easier sometimes. But, you also get to see the Lord work in both of your lives which makes all the junk worth it. So, take heart friend! Rest in Jesus and seek Him. Keep trusting that He is working all things together for your good and His glory. It will surprise you what that looks like and He will bring you more joy than you ever knew. Blessings!

  • Absolutely one I store in my heart for those days that I need reminding that it is well, not just with my soul but my all…
    Sending love and hugs this wet wet wet morning…

  • Monica Sheppard

    Thank you for all the prayers! God bless all of you.

  • After I read each days’ devotion, I find the hymn on YouTube and list to it and sing along. It has really been a blessing to read about hear these wonderful, old hymns.

  • Monica Sheppard

    I really don’t know where to post this but here but please pray for my uncle Tom Hornick. He is in the hospital in critical condition after a widowmaker heart attack and seizure. The doctors do not know what his outcome will be.

  • Jeanna McSweeney

    Philippians 1:20 is a perfect prayer –
    “My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all courage, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death,”

  • “Circumstances will change, but our God is steadfast and faithful — yesterday, today and every day to come — and it’s because of His character that we are safe and secure.” When I read this I felt Erin was looking right into my life as well. Through all my trials and my good times my Lord has been there for me and in my 59 1/2 years I have had many of each. Praise the Lord that He has been there and always will be for me. The Lord has made me who I am today and I will continue to let Him lead me and mold me into what He wants me to be.

  • Lynn Johnson

    A beautiful reminder no matter what…it is well with my soul. God is with us through each trial, hardship, joy filled moments and every breath in between. It is well with my soul. May my focus be razor sharp, missile locked on my King and my true home!

  • Sarah Powell

    This has long been one of my favorite hymns – I don’t even remember when I first started clinging to it. Every single line an impacting reminder of the hope I have in Christ. “Whatever my lot…” “Christ has regarded my helpless estate…” “my sin, not in part, but the whole was nailed…” “Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight…”
    I need to sing daily – in the good and the bad days – “it is well with my soul” <3

  • Kelly Chataine

    Sang this song to Dennis while he was in ICU. Sang this song for me when things were rough. Now, I am dreading the beginning of a new school year, for the first time in 18 years. I love and am thankful for my teaching position. Teaching is one of my spiritual gifts and allows me to witness and minister to many teenage souls. This go round, I want to remain home with my husband. He has plateaued in some areas and doesn’t get moving unless I tell him or go with him, etc. We have discussed me quitting my teaching position, but he will not entertain that thought due to money. I think I could more easily accept any other reason than money. Pray for us, for Dennis, for me.

    Thank you, sisters! Oh, isn’t the imagery of the Isaiah passage lovely!

    • Erica Chiarelli

      Praying for you and your husband!! <3

    • Debbi

      I prayed for you Kelly.

    • Jennifer

      Lifting you and your husband up in prayer!

    • Pam

      Praying for you Kelly.

    • Mari

      Praying

    • Terry

      Could you both pray about and consider other “ teaching” options? Home school? Students come to you, one at a time? Or you choose close by students that are on home studies? Ways to stay in your gifted ness, and be there for your hubby as well. Would your school district work with you on this?

      • Kelly Chataine

        Yes, I think so. Keeping my eyes open for other possibilities.

    • Debbie

      Kelly, I’m praying for you and your husband.

    • Mandee

      Kelly, there are also very credible online teaching positions that pay decently well. I had virtually no teaching experience and make $20/hour teaching online at home through a company called VIPKID. Maybe worth knocking on that door? Feel free to reach out for more info: [email protected]
      Praying God will provide abundantly for you and your husband.

    • Denise Morgan

      Kelly, I suggest you try Liberty University online teaching. They are hiring right now. My friend and her mother are online teachers for LU and it fits their schedules perfectly. My brother in law (just retired this year) spent the last few years teaching online for K-12 and he loved it ! Praying for you.

    • Tina

      Lifting you both up in prayer, dear Kelly. Praying God’s provision both in wisdom and an answer to this season… He is Good … He is God…
      Amen.
      Sending love wrapped hugs filled with loving prayers..x

  • Pam White

    One of my very favorites! Every time I sing it, I’m reminded that everything doesn’t need to be perfect with my outward appearance and my life won’t always be orderly and without chaos. What matters is my soul, and in Him, it is well!

    • Maya Basquin

      Such a beautiful song. I love to imagine the fact that the author of this song went through so much hurt and pain, and then penned this song having no clue that we would be singing it for generations to come. God is good.

      • Maura

        Indeed, he did lost his two of his children in a shipwreck, and His wife soon after. Then penned this amazing song. God is so good.

    • Courtney

      I needed that today. Thanks for sharing!

  • It is Well With My Soul-Audrey Assad.
    https://youtu.be/zY5o9mP22V0

  • Churchmouse

    “Let this blest assurance control…”. YES. When I fully comprehend what was accomplished for me through Christ shedding His blood on the cross, then I can be content in all circumstances. Whether I have “peace like a river” or “sorrows like sea billows” I know I will be ok. Whatever my lot. I rest in His blest assurance. It is Rock solid.

    • Kelly Chataine

      “Let this blest assurance control . . . ” Yes, yes indeed!

    • Mari

      Churchmouse, I responded to your post on Day 8 of this devotion. Life has me busy. At times I finish my devotions at work during my breaks.

      • Mari

        Also I’m having issues with the app so I’ve been coming to the internet to see posts/comments as I’m not able to see all the comments. That’s how I saw your post to me on Day 8.

    • Tina

      When I fully comprehend what was accomplished for me through Christ shedding His blood on the cross, then I can be content in all circumstances. Whether I have “peace like a river” or “sorrows like sea billows” I know I will be ok. Whatever my lot. Totally and utterly truth filled… YES.. Amen to that!!!!
      HUGS MY FRIEND..X

    • Dorothy

      Churchmouse, you always have a way with words. I have had “peace like a river” at times and “sorrows like sea billows” at times but as my life continues I too know I will be okay and “rest in His blest assurance. It is Rock solid.” I always look forward to reading your past my sister.

  • Please take time to
    listen to this beautiful version of the song! https://youtu.be/YNqo4Un2uZI

Further Reading...