ocean sunrise

It is well with my soul

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.

Do you know that old hymn “It is well with my soul”? It’s one of my favorites. I love everything about it…the responsiveness and harmonies in the chorus, the building melody, and of course the hope and promise in the lyrics. But most of all I love the story behind the song. Horatio Spafford wrote these words while mourning the loss of his four daughters, killed at sea. This tragedy was one of many Spafford suffered, including the death of his only son several years before, and the loss of his business to the Chicago fires. And yet, in his grief and sorrow he was able to say “it is well with my soul.” Oh how I aspire to affirm these words and posses the faithfulness of Mr. Spafford.

Last Sunday our amazing praise band sang this song and by the second line a giant lump had formed in my throat preventing me from doing more than mouth the words. Then the tears began to pool until they flowed over my lashes and down my cheeks. I wept for the beauty of the song. I cried because of the promise of the words. But more than anything, my heart broke because I so desperately wanted to say those words and believe they were true. To trust in my Father so deeply that even when I’m in the middle of a raging storm I can be confident that He will whisper peace to my soul. But the tears came because I knew all that I was lacking.

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks. Stress, overwhelming responsibility, lack of sleep, lack of focus…lack of faith. I have felt like the “Jordan above me” was sweeping me into its current. And I most definitely have not felt like all is well in my soul.

It is hard to face this part of myself. This part that lacks faith and falls short. That doubts and mistrusts and turns away. That focuses on the unfavorable and overlooks the blessings. That sees adversity without opportunity and cries out “when?” and “why?” instead of “I can wait” and “I put my trust in You.” In the midst of horrible tragedy and loss Horatio Spafford was able to have peace in his soul, but I have a rough week at work or struggle with my kids and I start to fracture.

Patience, trust, faith. These are the things I try to teach my children, they are prayers I lift up for friends who are struggling, encouragement I pass on to colleagues, words I share with all of you who read this blog. Yet so often I forget them for myself.

But our God…He knew I would. He is so good and merciful; He caters for my lack of faith and meets me where I am. The living word says, “…there is one ray of hope:  his compassion never ends. It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction.  Great is his faithfulness; his loving-kindness begins afresh each day.  My soul claims the Lord as my inheritance; therefore I will hope in him” (Lamentations 3:21-24, TLB).

His loving-kindness begins afresh each day. Can we just sit together a moment to soak up the warmth of that promise?

Lamentations 3:23

He doesn’t just love me; He doesn’t just forgive me. But He is kind and gentle with me. No yelling, no losing His patience, rolling His eyes or sighing heavily and muttering under His breath, “you’d think you would have gotten this figured out by now.” Instead His loving-kindness is there, refreshed and renewed every day. Which means I get a fresh start every day. We all get a fresh start every day.

Every. Single. Day.

Yesterday my soul was weary. My faith wavered.  My trials consumed my thoughts. The river rolled over me and I struggled to keep my head above.

But today? Today is a new day and His gentle, loving kindness is pure and bright and fresh. It glows like a rising sun and I have another chance to bask in its warmth. To let it wash over me and straight into my soul. Another chance to choose trust, patience, and faith instead of doubt, worry and fear. To choose to say: it is well, it is well with my soul.

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6 thoughts on “It is well with my soul”

  1. I feel so alone in my emotions sometimes, that’s why I love reading your blog, it makes me feel normal that another strong woman in Christ can still struggle with faith. I beat myself up about it sometimes and still cannot bring myself to trust it will all be well. It’s like I know the promise in my heart, but I allow the pain of the situations to be more prevalent than his promises :/

    1. I know just how you feel and I have a sneaking suspicion that most women struggle with these same feelings at one time or another. We just don’t often voice these struggles for fear of looking like we are failing in our faith. But I believe if we can put aside our insecurities and be open with one another then we can support and lift each other up and not feel like we are struggling alone. Thank you for so often being that support for me!

  2. It’s not just women who struggle with these feelings… we all do! To the outside world, we put on a brave face for fear of allowing others to see our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Yet on the inside, we anguish over the struggles and fears we face and our so-called “lack of faith”. But as James 1: 2-3 says: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

    One of the things that I definitely took away from this was when you talked about how his loving kindness begins afresh each day, and how I need to learn from that example and implement that in dealing with my children. Far too often I find my patience lacking and am easily angered not by their immediate actions, but because i have failed to reconcile and let go of my emotions from the previous day, week, etc.

    Jelise, thanks for continuing to be outspoken in your faith… for giving a voice to the many struggles we all face… for opening the lines of communication and tearing down the walls that shelter us from growing together, as a community of believers, in our faith! There is strength in numbers!

    Ecclesiastes 4:9-2
    Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, once can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

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