Grace Changes Everything

Redeemer Presbyterian

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The Triumph of the Cross

Doubtless, many of you are familiar with the story behind the song, ‘It Is Well with MY Soul.’ But it bears retelling once again. At the conclusion of the story, I want us to consider one thing.

Horatio G. Spafford was a Presbyterian layman from Chicago. He had established a very successful legal practice as a young businessman and was also a devout Christian. Among his close friends were several evangelists including the famous Dwight L. Moody, also from Chicago.

Spafford had a lovely family – a wife, Anna, and five children. However, they were not strangers to tears and tragedy. Their young son died with pneumonia in 1871, and in that same year, much of their business was lost in the great Chicago fire. Yet, God in His mercy and kindness allowed the business to flourish once more.

Hymnologist Kenneth Osbeck tells the story: “Desiring a rest for his wife and four daughters as well as wishing to join and assist Moody and [his musician Ira] Sankey in one of their campaigns in Great Britain, Spafford planned a European trip for his family in 1873. In November of that year, due to unexpected last-minute business developments, he had to remain in Chicago, but sent his wife and four daughters on ahead as scheduled on the S.S. Ville du Havre. He expected to follow in a few days.

“On November 22 the ship was struck by the Loch Earn, an English vessel, and sank in twelve minutes. A sailor, rowing a small boat over the spot where the ship went down, spotted a woman floating on a piece of the wreckage. It was Anna, still alive. He pulled her into the boat and they were picked up by another large vessel which, nine days later, landed them in Cardiff, Wales. From there she wired her husband the message, ‘Saved alone’.”

Mr. Spafford booked passage on the next available ship and left to join his grieving wife. With the ship about four days out, the captain called Spafford to his cabin and told him they were over the place where his children went down.
According to Bertha Spafford Vester, a daughter born after the tragedy, Spafford wrote “It Is Well With My Soul” while on this journey.

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.

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul

What enabled Spafford to write a song of such beauty and power on the heels of such tragedy? What is it about the cross that enables us to face our trials and troubles with courage and hope? How do we experience the ‘peace that passes all understanding’? Join us this Sunday as we talk about the triumph of the cross from Colossians 2:11-15 to discover the truth that provides us this kind of peace. Don’t forget to pray for the work of God’s Spirit. Are you praying for your friends? Family? Neighbor?

It is with eager expectation that I look forward to worshiping with you this Lord’s Day. The grace of Christ be with you.

For His Glory,