Horatio Spafford was a Christian lawyer in Chicago.  Spafford invested in real estate north of Chicago. When the great fire of Chicago reduced the city to ashes in October of 1871, it also destroyed most of his sizable investment.  He had a child of four die of scarlet fever.  Then, in 1873, Spafford decided his family should take a holiday some where in Europe and chose England, knowing that his friend D.L. Moody would be preaching there in the fall. He was delayed because of business so he sent his family on ahead: his wife and four children.

On November 21, 1873, the ship the Spafford family was on collided with another vessel and within twenty minutes sank in the northern Atlantic. Mrs. Spafford was knocked unconscious but rescued.  The four children were swept out to sea and drowned. The news of the accident came to Horatio and he waited anxiously for news about his family.  Finally, ten days later, a telegram came, sent from his wife, who was in a hospital.  The telegram contained just two words:  “Saved – Alone.”  He was devastated having lost his four daughters.  When asked if he was okay, he responded  with one of the most amazing statements for he said: “You know, I’m just glad that I’m able to trust the Lord, when it cost me something.”

As soon as possible, Horatio took a ship to meet his wife and bring her home.  On the journey home, he asked the captain to awake him when they came to the approximate location of the accident.  The captain did and as Horatio Spafford looked down in those cold, dark waters, which covered the bodies of his four daughters, He wept unashamedly.  And then he went to his cabin and penned the words to what has become one of our most famous hymns.

“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.
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.”

The only way  that Horatio Spafford could hold on to his faith in the midst of such devastating grief, was to put his absolute trust in Jesus Christ.
May we be able to sing with great conviction, “It is well with my soul.”



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