Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It is Well

I implore you to live piously in order that you might preserve your Orthodox faith, in order that no one and nothing, no circumstances and no kind of sorrow can turn you away from it.  For this you absolutely must pray, seeking God’s help to keep your faith pure. -St. Nikon

There I was on my knees crying in the bathroom while cleaning the toilet.  My heart was humbled and rejoicing.  I was listening to my mp3 player and the Protestant hymn It is Well With My Soul started to play.  I never can get through that hymn without crying and thanking God for His great mercy and love. 

Faith is sometimes a great challenge when we are faced with sorrow or difficulty in this life.  In my own life there have been real intense, even terrifying moments.  Other times the smallest issue can seem like the biggest burden, the tallest mountain to climb.  When I hear of the trials others face I feel ashamed by my weakness.  I know my "sliver" is nothing compared to the bleeding infected wound I might see a friend having to work through, trying desperately to figure out how to stop the bleeding while I baby my microscopic spiritual skin irritation.  I wonder how I can be expected to have the faith to carry on.  But God bids us to follow Him, wherever He leads, whatever the cost. 

The man who penned It is Well With My Soul was named Horatio Spafford.  The words are so encouraging but the inspiration for the words came from great tragedy.  He had been a successful lawyer and real estate investor but lost much in the Chicago fire of 1871.  He decided to take his family to Europe on holiday but business prevented him from going with his wife and four daughters.  Instead he sent them ahead and planned to meet them in England.  En Route their ship was struck by another sea vessel and quickly sank.  All four daughters were drowned.  His wife Anna sent a telegram which simply read "Saved alone."  He went to meet his wife abroad and, as his own ship passed close to the location of the accident, he wrote the words to the hymn.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has 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 the 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.

Whatever trials, temptations, struggles or tragedies come to us, we, as Christians, can have that "blessed assurance" and great hope! Because of Christ and Him Crucified, we can say in all honesty, "it is well with my soul."  His love for us is so great and so all encompassing we can trust in His love to sustain us and for Him to use even the most unbearable circumstances for the good of those who love Him.  Not that He desires bad things or "makes" bad things happen, but He can turn them into something beneficial and glorious for those who love Him.  This faith I have in Christ and the hope in the resurrection and the world to come are what allow me, even in the darkest moments, to praise the Lord. 

May the Lord bless you with His peace and may we cling to the hope, which is Christ Himself.

My favorite recording of this hymn is by 2nd Chapter of Acts http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWtf4kO3DLs

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