Have you heard the story of this famous hymn? Have you listened to the lyrics in order to really understand what place they came from? Obviously, growing up in church I have heard them over and over. I know the words by heart, but when you know the story behind the lyrics you realize how much more significant those words really are. They transcend time making those same words, words of pain but also wisdom and faithfulness. Here is the story that I found online that describes perfectly just where Horatio was in his life and how this hymn unfolds.
Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) was a wealthy Chicago lawyer with a thriving legal practice, a beautiful home, a wife, four daughters and a son. He was also a devout Christian and faithful student of the Scriptures. His circle of friends included Dwight L. Moody, Ira Sankey and various other well-known Christians of the day.
At the very height of his financial and professional success, Horatio and his wife Anna suffered the tragic loss of their young son. Shortly thereafter on October 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed almost every real estate investment that Spafford had.
In 1873, Spafford scheduled a boat trip to Europe in order to give his wife and daughters a much needed vacation and time to recover from the tragedy. He also went to join Moody and Sankey on an evangelistic campaign in England. Spafford sent his wife and daughters ahead of him while he remained in Chicago to take care of some unexpected last minute business. Several days later he received notice that his family's ship had encountered a collision. All four of his daughters drowned; only his wife had survived.
With a heavy heart, Spafford boarded a boat that would take him to his grieving Anna in England. It was on this trip that he penned those now famous words,
This story is powerful. But I just don't think I am there. This man literally got on a boat to be with his grieving wife (I don't even think grieving is a fair description) who was alone after losing all five of her kids. Are you kidding me God? His faith, his wisdom; it's impossible without You. I just want to scream at you God and say it's not fair. It's not fair for Horatio Spafford and it's not fair for us. I still beg God to bring him back to me when I pray. I am not saying it is well with my soul. I am saying this feels impossible. I am saying I want him back.
Tomorrow Charlie will have been gone for 9 months. The last 9 months have been so strange. Dealing with grief and then trying to find joy again is strange. I hope tomorrow he pops up somewhere in my day to remind me he is happy and full of joy in heaven. I hope that I can say it is well with my soul tomorrow. I hope my list of reasons to be thankful tomorrow is long, really long.