“It is well with my soul”: A family’s remarkable story

LLife can be difficult. And when it gets like this we have two options. We can quit or we can absorb the blows and use them to better ourselves and help others. Experience the history of Spafford…

‘But I don’t think about our loved ones who are there. They are safe, tucked in, the dear lambs.

Years ago, I walked into church on Easter Sunday, shook the pastor’s hand, and asked how he was doing.

He looked me straight in the eye and said, “I’m fine with my soul.” Her facial expression spoke of her sincerity.

I was deeply moved by the pastor’s response. This boy had something I wanted. So I set out to investigate the origin of “it’s fine with my soul.”

What I found was fascinating, heartbreaking, and inspiring.

“It’s Right With My Soul”

The fact is, growing up in the United Methodist Church, I am familiar with the pastor’s words. I have sung the hymn “The Soul Is Well” dozens of times.

Here’s the first verse…

When peace, like a river, accompanies my path,
When the sorrows roll like the waves of the sea;
Whatever my luck, you have taught me to say:
It’s alright, it’s alright, with my soul.

The hymn’s lyrics were written by Horatio Spafford, the music composed by Philip Bliss. It was first published in 1876.

I will tell the story…

The extraordinary story of a family

Horatio Spafford well with the soul

Horace Spafford

Horatio Spafford was a successful lawyer who had invested heavily in Chicago property.

Unfortunately, most of his properties were in the area of ​​the city that was horribly damaged by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

The losses ruined him financially.

If that wasn’t enough, what was left of his business portfolio was decimated by the financial panic of 1873.

tragedy strikes

Spafford knew it was time to get away for a while, so he and his wife Anna planned a family trip to Europe on the French steamer Ville du Havre.

However, due to ongoing business challenges, the decision was made for Anna and her four daughters to make the trip, with Spafford later joining them.

On November 22, 1873, as seen in our featured image, the Ville du Havre (on the right) collided with the British ship Loch Earn and sank in 12 minutes. Her four daughters were among the 226 lost souls.

Miraculously, Anna survived; floating unconscious on a wooden board.

A fellow survivor recalled her saying, “God gave me four daughters. Now they have been taken from me. Someday I will understand why.”

Nine days later, Anna landed in Wales and cabled her husband: “Saved alone. What should I do…”

horace sets sail

Anna Spafford well with my soul

anna spafford

Horatio made the trip to Europe to meet the grieving Anna and escort her home.

During his voyage, the captain of the ship called him to his cabin to tell him that they were passing the place where the Ville du Havre sank.

Horatio, a devout Presbyterian, wrote to Anna’s half-sister: “Last Thursday we passed the place where she sank, in the middle of the ocean, in water three miles deep. But I don’t think about our loved ones who are there. They are safe, tucked in, the dear lambs”.

Not long after, Horatio penned the words of what would become “My Soul Is Well.” When Philip Bliss set the lyrics to music, he called it “Ville du Havre.”

absorbing the blow

Back in the United States, the Spaffords had three more children. Unfortunately, one of them died at the age of four from scarlet fever.

The Presbyterian Church considered their tragedies divine punishment, so the Spaffords formed a Christian utopian society.

In 1881, the Spafford family, with a small number of society members, set out for Jerusalem, establishing what they called the American Colony.

helping others

The Colony provided aid to the Christians, Jews and Muslims of Jerusalem, without proselytizing motives. Its soup kitchens, hospitals, orphanages, and other charitable enterprises were instrumental during and immediately after World War I.

The American colony became world famous after appearing in the novel. Jerusalemwritten by Nobel Prize-winning author Selma Lagerlöf.

What about you?

Life is going to get difficult, count on it. And we can throw in the towel or take the blows and turn them into positive thought and action.

That’s what the Spaffords did. What about you?

images: public domain {{PD-US}}

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