The hymn, “It is Well,” begins with the line, “When peace like a river attendeth my way.”

No one could’ve imagined the way that our world would change in just a matter of months, weeks and days.

A virus has shut down our economy, has left people without means of support and has sent many of us to wait it out at our homes. Some even call the world marked by COVID-19/Coronavirus as the “new normal.”

As we wait, some are living in fear and panic.  Those who are tested are waiting to hear the results.  

Those who have more serious cases are hospitalized and medical workers are going above and beyond in their care.

So, how can we find hope in this time of crisis?

Some hints for us might come from the hymn “It is well.”  In particular, we may find the hope and courage to overcome in the story of the hymn’s writer.

Horatio Spafford was a prominent lawyer in a big firm in Chicago in the 1870s.  In the spring of 1871, Stafford made a series of investments in real estate in Chicago.  However, in October of 1871, his investments, his fortune, was wiped out by the Great Chicago Fire.  Some reports also say that the Spafford’s lost their four-year-old son as a result of that fire.

The family grieved and worked through the financial issues over the next two years.  In 1873, Spafford planned a trip to Europe to help his wife and four daughters as they healed from their grief.  At the last minute, Spafford encountered some zoning issues related to his property in Chicago.  He send his wife and four daughters ahead on the trip on the SS Ville du Havre.  

On the way to Europe, the ship collided with another ship and sank in minutes.  His wife sent Spafford a telegram that simply read, “Saved alone.”  The four daughters drowned in the sinking.

Spafford left as soon as he could to be with his grieving wife.  His ship sailed near the site of the sinking.  In this moment, Spafford had an image of his daughters being safe in the arms of God.  He was inspired to write a song.   That song would become known as “It is Well” and it remains a prominent song in hymnals today.

When you think through the words of that hymn, we find a reminder of what God is doing for us in times of uncertainty, trouble and fear. 

The song begins this way:

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 a reminder that in this time that we know God is still Emmanuel (God with us) and God is with us in this time of uncertainty.  God reminds us, no matter our “lot,” we can still know that it is well with our souls.

Prayer: Dear God, we face the uncertainty of the coronavirus and we feel so many emotions.  We can be fearful.  We can be confused.  We can grieve.  However, you have promised to be with us no matter what.  Help us to know your presence and know that it is well with our souls.  Amen.