While going through RMCC’s Bible reading plan, I came across a verse that reminded me of an amazing hymn. The verse is Isaiah 48:18 and part of that verse includes the words: “then your peace would have been like a river…” My thoughts immediately turned to the song entitled, ‘It is Well with my Soul!’
Even as most Christians can quote John 3:16, most Christians are familiar with this hymn. As far as hymns go, it doesn’t get much better. But as great as the hymn is, the story behind the song is even more incredible!
It was written by Horatio Spafford who lived in Chicago through the 1800’s (1828-1888) and was a born-again believer in Jesus. He was also a very successful businessman who was living a very blessed life until he lost all five of his children in a very short period of time. It’s an unbelievable story of pain and heartbreak, but through it all Spafford was moved to write the lyrics for this song we all cherish.
I don’t know if his song was inspired by the verse in Isaiah 48, but in any event that verse should give all of us pause as we consider this famous hymn and this man’s incredible faithfulness through tragic events in his life.
Isaiah 48 was a call to God’s people to pay special attention to what He had to say to them. The story behind Isaiah 48 is that God was going to send His people to Babylon as punishment for their continual rejection of Him, but the story wouldn’t end there.
God told the children of Israel, through Isaiah, that He would call them ‘Home” at some point. While in captivity, their job was to be ready; to be desiring – even longing – for God’s best for their lives, including and especially the peace they had forfeited because of their indifference, even rejection, of God.
Fast forward to today.
As believers in Jesus, like Horatio Spafford we may find ourselves in the midst of heart-breaking circumstances that seemed to come out of nowhere, or perhaps like the children of Israel we are facing the consequences of some sin. Whatever our circumstances, the question is, do we desire a peace that surpasses all understanding? Do we desire to hear the Lord speaking over us: “this is the way, walk in it (Isaiah 30:21)?”
Through life’s greatest trials, like what Horatio Spafford encountered, God’s desire is to give us peace in our journey down here. The question for us today, as it was for the Jewish people in Isaiah’s day, is: Do we want to put ourselves in that place where we can enjoy God’s peace?
That place of peace is:
1. Submission to His will,
2. Sanctification through His Word, and
3. Service in His Name.
As the prophet Jeremiah said, we need to stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is and walk in it (Jeremiah 6:16). If we do, we will be able to say, “it is well (it is well) with my soul!”
Let us choose the Jesus’ way each day and may we know peace like a river!
Written by Pastor Bruce Daze