|Avalon is,from left to right, Melissa Greene, Jody McBrayer, and Janna and Greg Long.|
'In Christ Alone'
In the 1870s, Horatio Spafford was a successful Chicago lawyer. He had a wife named Anna and five children. Early in 1871, one of Mr. Spafford's children, his only son, died suddenly and left the entire family devastated. Spafford had invested heavily in real estate and, as if to add insult to injury, he lost most of his properties as well as his life savings during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Spafford desperately needed a rest, so in 1873 he planned a trip to Europe with his wife and four daughters. Last minute business caused Spafford to delay his departure, but he sent his wife and 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. 244 souls perished that day, including all four of Spafford's daughters. Several days later, what little survivors there were, landed at Cardiff, Wales. Spafford's wife Anna was among them. She cabled her husband the brief message, "Saved alone, what shall I do?"
When Horatio Spafford made the trip 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 the unforgettable words to a song that has brought healing and hope to countless people: "It is Well With My Soul."
I have been singing that song my whole life but never knew the story behind it until recently. To say that it has inspired me would be an understatement.
Every one of us experience pain and loss in this life. We come face to face with difficulties that overwhelm us, often leaving us paralyzed and unable to move forward. What does it say about a man like Horatio Spafford to have his entire family and fortune taken from him, yet still have enough faith in God to say, "It Is Well…."?
I'm not sure I would respond that way. As a matter of fact, I haven't. I haven't even begun to experience the kind of loss that Mr. Spafford did, and yet my response to loss has been very different. My father passed away in 2000, and to this day I still shake my head at the heavens and ask why. That's where Mr. Spafford's life and story have helped alter my perspective.
Philippians 4:7 from The Message Bible says; "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."
I love that line, "...when God displaces worry at the center of your life." There really is a peace beyond our own understanding. God promises us peace and a clearer understanding of life's difficulties if we'll only just pray and seek Him. The true test is not the trial itself but how we respond to that trial. Mr. Spafford knew this.
Horatio Spafford was a mighty man of God. One who shared company with some of the greatest spiritual men of his time. They would often call on him for advice and prayer because of his godly character. That is the kind of man I want to be. That's what God wants for all of us--to be people who are sold out for Christ, and so firmly rooted in His faith that we can withstand any storm.
The second verse of "It is Well" says:
"Though Satan should buffet.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.
Though trials should come.
Let this blessed assurance control.
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
and hath shed His own blood for my soul."
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."