Did you know that the man who wrote this hymn had just lost his 5 children? One son to pneumonia, four daughters to a shipwreck. A shipwreck that he was almost on, that his wife was one of few to survive. He had also recently lost almost all of his business investments to a fire, just after the death of his son. He was headed toward London from New York to rejoin his wife, traveling over roughly the same spot that claimed his four daughters. Surrounded by that pain, this song was born.
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll…”
What suffering. What great pain that must be. To live that, to face a grief so all-encompassing, and yet to feel a peace?
“That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.”
Helpless. That he sees it. That he knows I’m there, that I’m lacking in hope and don’t know what to do.
And to save my soul, to give me this peace that no tragedy, no burden can trounce, he died. He bled.
That I no longer need bare my pain.
“No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.”
A whisper. Spoken softly. Not to my state of being, not to my present situation, but to my soul in the midst of the situation.
We feel pain. We all feel pain. For ourselves and our tribulations, for others, for our culture and our congregation. But friends, don’t you see? Our hearts can hurt, our bodies can hurt. Our Lord has already given us the peace we need. It is ours, forevermore.
“Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.”
I have never faced suffering close to that of Horatio Spafford’s; I doubt many of us have. But if he can find peace in a circumstance such as his, why can’t we?
My husband stumbled upon this mug in the most wonderful boutique, Be The Change Boutique, in downtown Charleston. Everything in the shop has a story and helps to give back. This coffee mug’s purchase went to clean water for places that need it. It’s the only time my husband has ever encouraged a mug purchase :).