Be A Self-Encourager: Encouraging Yourself Through Song – “It Is Well With My Soul” by Horatio Spafford

We have learned to encourage ourselves through solitude with God and through Scripture, particularly the Psalms.  Lastly, we can encourage ourselves through song.

Ephesians 5:19 shows us how to be filled with the Spirit, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

“God’s people have reason to rejoice, and to sing for joy.  They are to sing and to make melody in their hearts; not only with their voices, but with inward affection, and then their doing this will be as delightful and acceptable to God as music is to us: and it must be with a design to please Him, and to promote His glory, that we do this; and then it will be done to the Lord.”  Matthew Henry

I enjoy current gospel music.  Many songs have encouraged me and lifted my spirits, but my favorites are the enduring hymns.  They are classic and they don’t sound dated.  Two hymns in particular ministered to me the most during my journey of infertility.  I wrote about it many times in my journal.  One of them is “It Is Well With My Soul”.

The story behind the writing of “It Is Well With My Soul” is perhaps a familiar one.  Elisabeth Elliot’s Secure in the Everlasting Arms presents it in more detail than I have ever heard in the past.

The great Chicago fire of the 1870s caused Horatio Spafford, a wealthy businessman, to take stock in his life.  Wanting to know Jesus better, he decided to sell everything and move to the land where He had walked.  Shortly before the ship sailed, he was delayed by business, but took the family to New York.  For some reason he was unable to explain, he had the purser change their cabin, moving them closer to the bow.  He returned to Chicago to finish his business.  Then came a telegram: SAVED ALONE.  The ship had sunk.  Mrs. Spafford had survived.  Their four daughters had perished.  Had they been in the cabin originally reserved amidships, all five would have drowned, for it was there that the steamer had been struck by another vessel.

Mrs. Spafford described that terrible black night when she and her four little girls were flung into the cold sea.  Frantically, she had tried to save them.  Barely, she had been able to touch with her fingertips the hem of the little gown of one, but could not grasp it.  She herself had been miraculously rescued as she floated unconscious on a piece of flotsam.

During Mr. Spafford’s voyage to join his wife in France, the captain summoned him one day to the bridge.  Pointing to his charts he explained that it was just here, where they were at that moment, that the other ship had gone down.  Spafford returned to his cabin and wrote the hymn, which has comforted countless thousands.  Mrs. Bertha Spafford Vester, the fifth daughter of Horatio and Mrs. Spafford, who was not born until after the tragedy, told this story to Mrs. Elliot.  What a joy to know God blessed them with another daughter!

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 It Is Well With My Soul by Horatio Spafford

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, 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. 

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

My sin – O 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!

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

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

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“It Is Well With My Soul” performed by Chris Rice

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Piano by Greg Howlett

Early in 2003, I had my final attempt at ovulation induction with IUI.  It didn’t work.  I was still struggling to accept it might not be God’s will for me to get pregnant.  Adoption was next, and IVF was not yet in the picture.

This is what I wrote in my journal on March 12, 2003 – “Weepy day.  I cried at work a little and then at home.  Greg told me not to go to church tonight, but I showered and felt better so I went.  Greg wanted to pray with me.  He told me a lot of things the Lord had laid on my heart this very day.  I had to face reality that I thought God let me down.  Greg said it was the first time he sensed from me that I doubted God.  That hurts, and I’m ashamed of feeling that way.  Janice talked to me afterward because she saw me bawling.  Teri asked Greg about me.  Greg and Janice both said I was going through the grieving of my loss and that was natural.  I want to be at peace and say, ‘It is well with my soul.’ ”

“To love God is to love His will.  That which He gives we receive.  That which He takes away we relinquish.  He unfailingly allots grace in the measure needed.  It is for us to choose to receive or refuse it.  Our joy or our misery will depend on that choice.”  Elisabeth Elliot from “Whatever My Lot”, Secure in the Everlasting Arms

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