Christy in the Pulpit: When Your Heart is Grieving

Posted by on Nov 21, 2016 in Christy in the Pulpit | 0 comments

Christy in the Pulpit: When Your Heart is Grieving

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, 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.

Some of you may know the story behind this old hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul.” Hymnist Horatio Spafford penned the now well-known song around 1876, after his life was affected by tragedy. I say “affected” but that’s a mild way of putting what happened to Spafford during this time in his life.

Spafford was a successful lawyer in Chicago, where he also owned a significant amount of property. He and his wife, Anna, had several children and, by all accounts, a happy and comfortable life. They were well-known and well-liked around Chicago.

But things started to go downhill for the Spaffords. Fast. First, their son died at the age of two, and shortly after that came the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which nearly ruined Spafford financially. Then came the economic downturn of 1873, which basically finished him off.

Spafford decided to book his family on a sea voyage to Europe to try and lift his family’s spirits. But at the last minute, he was delayed by some business issues, so he sent his family ahead.

Then, while crossing the Atlantic, the ship his family was on collided with another ship, and although Spafford’s wife survived, all four of their daughters died.

As Spafford was traveling to meet his wife, the ship he was on passed near where his daughters had died.

And it was at that moment, that moment of what had to be the most crushing pain a person can endure, that Spafford picked up his pen and wrote the lyrics to “It Is Well With My Soul.”

I cannot imagine Spafford’s grief in that time of his life. I have never experienced loss like he did, but I have experienced loss, and grief, and the wrenching sadness that sometimes feels like you may never be able to draw a deep breath again because everything just hurts so much.

Grief and loss are real. And they are a part of life – none of us will pass from this world without experiencing some sort of loss and grief.

Sometimes it’s short-lived – you lost your job or had a falling out with a friend – but sometimes it’s deeper, the kind of grief that takes a bite out of your very soul. Death, heartbreak, broken family relationships, severe illness… there are as many causes of grief as there are people to experience it.

This is a subject that many of you brought up to me when I asked you “Where does it hurt?” several weeks ago. It has taken me this long to address this particular hurt in a sermon because, quite frankly, there are no easy answers.

Yes, the Bible tells us how to find faith in the midst of our grief. And everything the Bible says about grief is real and true and we know this.

But still…

We grieve.

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