|Horatio G. Spafford|
It Is Well With My Soul
| ||Horatio G. Spafford was known as a sincere, devout Christian. He was the father of four daughters, an active member of the Presbyterian church, and a loyal friend and supporter of D. L. Moody and other evangelical leaders of his day.
In November 1873, Spafford decided to take his entire family to Europe for a vacation, intending also to assist Moody in his evangelistic work once he arrived there. However, Spafford was unexpectedly detained in Chicago due to urgent business concerns, but decided to send his family aboard the S.S. Ville du Harve as scheduled. Midway through the trans-Atlantic voyage, S.S. Ville du Harve was struck by the English vessel Loch Earn and eventually foundered. Spafford's four daughters—Anna, eleven; Maggie, nine; Bessie, seven; and Tanetta, two—were among the 226 who perished in the aftermath. Mrs. Spafford, one of the few who were spared, sent her husband the heartbreaking telegram: “Saved alone.”
Spafford immediately sailed for England to join his grief-stricken wife. As his ship passed the approximate location where his daughters had drowned, his deep sorrow mingled with his unwavering faith in God's goodness caused him to compose the following hymn.
When peace like a river attendeth my way,Probably very few, like Spafford, are able to maintain their faith in the face of such devastating bereavement without spiritually faltering. The natural tendency of one confronted with such senseless tragedy would surely be to question, to doubt, to blame, to accuse God. Yet this hymn reveals a person who had been graced by God to mourn without bitterness, to sorrow without anger, to trust without resentment, to rest in the peace of Christ which surpasses every man's understanding (Phil. 4:6). The remarkable faith exhibited by the author of this hymn is the same precious faith allotted to all the believers (2 Peter 1:1) which enables them to believe steadfastly as the author did, that all things work together for good to those who love God and to those who are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).
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