Horatio Spafford, a prominent Chicago lawyer in the later 1800’s, decided one year to take his family to England for vacation. As it were, due to business as a lawyer, he was delayed when they were set to sail from the U.S. to England, so Horatio decided to send his wife, Anna, and their four daughters, ages 11, 9, 5 and 2, ahead.
On their journey over the Atlantic, their steamship was struck by an iron sailing vessel, causing massive damage to the ship and it sank. Two hundred twenty-six people lost their lives that fateful day, including all four of Horatio and Anna’s children. Anna survived, and upon reaching England, sent a telegram to Horatio, beginning with the words, “Saved alone.”
Horatio then set sail to England. As he was crossing the Atlantic near the area where the ship sank and his children died, Horatio penned these words:
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know, It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath 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 His cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O 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.”
My friends, few of us will ever have to know grief in our life like Horatio and Anna Spafford did. But this is a fallen, broken world, and bad times come to each and every one of us. Maybe it’s the loss of a loved one, or a relationship ends, or a job is lost, or a friend betrays, or an injustice is dealt. So many times we feel cheated, or mislead, or dealt the wrong hand, and get upset with God. “Why me God?! How could you possibly let this happen?! I thought you had our best intentions in mind? I thought you gave us our hearts desires? …And now this?” I think it’s valid to wrestle with these things sometimes. I think that this sort of wrestling is, in a sense, seeking God. Seeking His answers, His guidance, His comfort, His assurance that it’s going to be okay and that He does have everything under control. I think so many times, we as Christians, know the ‘text book answers’ to so much of the problems in life, but we have a really hard time making it a real connection in our mind. We have a really hard time believing that God does have our best intentions in mind… that He does have a plan, and this terrible event in our life is part of it. Nothing happens in our lives without first passing through the scrutiny of the Almighty God.
Maybe He caused it. Maybe He allowed it. Either way, if we wrestle with God in a righteous fashion, and genuinely seek His face and His guidance and comfort, I believe we’ll turn up with something at the other end of it.
Perhaps we wake up after the fact and look back a week, a month, a year, 10 years, and then we see why it all happened.
Perhaps in the end it’s like what God teaches Job, and Job said, “Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
Perhaps we never get to know some answers this side of Heaven.
Perhaps like Horatio Spafford, the outcome of the situation could be used for centuries to come, encouraging others.
In the end, perhaps, though we wrestle with life’s struggles, though we may never understand, perhaps, we can entrust our situations to God as best as we can, and believe that He has your life under control, and perhaps in the end we will still be able to stand and say, ‘whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know, It is well, it is well with my soul…’
 Job 42