Galatians 5:22-25 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

“Peace” is the third in my “Fruit of the Spirit” series. The idea of peace reminds me of the idea of “peace like a river, ” which led me to think of one of my favorite hymns: “It Is Well”. You can listen to the song and read the story on Godtube.

“It Is Well”

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul

Refrain: It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come
Let this blessed assurance control
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

My sin, 0 the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but in whole
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, 0 my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend
Even so, it is well with my soul

I’ve always loved this song. The words are so powerful. But they mean so much more when you know the story behind them. In the 1870s Horatio Spafford was a successful Chicago lawyer and a close friend of evangelist Dwight L. Moody. In 1870, however, things started to go wrong. The Spaffords’ only son was killed by scarlet fever at the age of four. A year later, it was fire rather than fever that struck. Horatio had invested heavily in real estate on the shores of Lake Michigan. In 1871, every one of these holdings was wiped out by the great Chicago Fire.  Spafford and his family desperately needed a rest so in 1873 he planned a trip to Europe with his wife and four daughters. While in Great Britain he also hoped to help Moody and Sankey with their evangelistic tour. Last minute business caused Spafford to delay his departure, but he sent his wife and four daughters on the S. S. Ville Du Havre as scheduled, promising to follow in a few days. On November 22 the ship was struck by the English ship Lochearn, and it sank in twelve minutes. Several days later the survivors landed at Cardiff, Wales, and Mrs. Spafford sent a telegram to her husband with the brief message, “Saved alone.” When Horatio Spafford made the ocean crossing to meet his grieving wife, he sailed near the place where his four daughters had sunk to the ocean depths. There, in the midst of his sorrow, he wrote these unforgettable words that have brought solace to so many in grief.

You can read a much more detailed version of Spafford’s store here. In writing about the same story of the same song, Jody McBrayer from the band Avalon ends with “It is my prayer that when you and I are faced with struggles, we respond as Mr. Spafford did. With the “blessed assurance” of knowing that God is bigger than our circumstances. He is greater than our speeding tickets. He is more powerful than divorce. He is mightier than cancer or disease. Our God took into consideration all of these situations, both joyful and difficult, long before time began. Then, He sent Jesus to take those burdens from us and to renew our lives.

In Isaiah 53 it says; “…He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”

I wish you all peace, the kind of peace that Horatio Spafford had. The peace that only comes when we trust God with every fiber of our being. Knowing deep within us that, no matter where we are in this life, no matter what answers we don’t have, no matter how difficult the path ahead may be, we can sing and truly believe “It is well, it is well with my soul.”

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