Monday, 14 May 2012

Soul Health

I have been very inspired by this incredibly faithful man of God recently. He's not some 'celebrity platform preacher' or 'star missionary', just an ordinary family man with a name that makes me want to giggle - Horatio Spafford. Go on, have a giggle with me, I don't think he'll mind.

Mr Spafford had a beautiful wife, 5 children, a business and a welcoming home. They were faithful christians and active in their Presbytarian church. In 1870, however, the Horatio's faith was tested by the devastating death of youngest child and only son. Just one year later, the Great Chicago Fire burnt up Spafford's business. They decided to take the family to Europe for a break and in 1873 Spafford's wife, Anna, and 4 daughters boarded a boat bound for new shores and new adventures. Spafford was to join them in a few days. The boat they boarded was hit by another ship and sunk in just 12 minutes. Only Anna survived. Once she was on dry land she sent this telegram to her husband: "Saved alone. What shall I do." I cannot imagine the utter devastation this man must have felt in losing all of his children.

On hearing the news, Horatio Spafford boarded the first boat he could find and made his way over the very same waters to find his wife and bring her home. As they passed over the now still water where his four daughters drowned, Horatio hid in his room and penned these words:

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.

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, trumpet 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 trumpet shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

This man who had lost everything was able to lift up his eyes to the One who makes his soul well. This isn't positive thinking. This is not 'living in victory' but denying the realities. He wasn't reading a self help book to get him through a rough patch. Did this man deny his feelings? I am sure he would have wept with inconsolable grief as he passed the site where his four daughters drowned Yet he praised his God. He said his soul was well. How can his soul be well when his life has been devastated by death and fire? The wellness of his soul did not depend on circumstances, it depended on the One who gives him peace like a river, even when his sorrows roll like the waves. The wellness of his soul depended on the One who never changes.

So simple. So uncomplicated. So real. So true. May the wellness of our souls depend on the One who is steadfast and generous in goodness, love, faithfulness, wisdom, grace, mercy and hope.

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