I’ve had these thoughts swirling around in my head for a couple weeks now, but just haven’t had time to sit down and hash them out. So, be warned, we may be here awhile. Actually, I’m sure I have lost half the thoughts I had. Anyway…..
A couple weeks ago I went to an IF Table Gathering at my church. If you’ve never heard about IF Gatherings, you should google it. Pretty amazing thing to be part of. But, for those of you who don’t care that much, here’s the general idea: A group of 6-8 women gather together each month over a meal and discuss 4 questions. We do life together, laugh, cry, think about how Jesus is moving in our lives and in our world. A couple times a year, we do one big gathering at our church where we all meet together. We had one such event a couple weeks ago. The general theme of the night was God redeeming all of our story for His glory. Three women gave their testimony about how some really crappy things had happened in their lives, and how they saw God work to restore it to good.
Part of the worship set we sang was “It is Well With My Soul”. I had to take a minute and ask myself if I truly believed the words I was singing. “When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to knowa. It is well, it is well, with my soul.” To be quiet honest, there are many areas of my life over the past few years that I am not at all happy with my lot. When my sorrows like sea billows have rolled, it wasn’t well with much of anything in me- my soul, my physical, mental or emotional health. It has been during this time of most tribulation I’ve encountered in my life that I learned the back story behind the song “It is Well With My Soul”. Horatio Spafford penned this hymn in 1873. He was once a wealthy lawyer and real estate investor. In 1871 his 2 year old son died. Soon after, he met financial ruin after the Great Chicago fire which destroyed much of his investment property. He had further financial trouble hit during the economic downturn of 1873. He decided his family needed a break, and planned a European vacation for himself, his wife, and their 4 daughters. Change of plans, the wife and daughters went ahead of him. Their boat sank and only the wife survived. He received the news via telegram. On his way to meet up with his wife, he was inspired to pen the words of the hymn as he passed near the place where his daughters had died. So, what about my pity party!?! Life has sucked several days, but praise the Lord, we have not suffered financial ruin and my babies are happy and healthy (well, minus the one home today with strep throat).
When I sing the words to “It is Well With My Soul” what exactly am I proclaiming? For a long time, I thought I needed to be happy or joyful to truly sing “It is Well”. But, as I break down the lyrics, and consider the context in which it is written, I realize this isn’t really the case. In fact, I think my God is big enough to handle me saying, “I am completely, 100% totally pissed off right now. You are totally not working life out according to my agenda. My heart is broken. But, in the midst of it all, I know you are God. And, some way some how, I am going to muster the faith to truly believe you’ve got this under control.” So, things don’t have to be going well, for it to be well. My heart doesn’t have to be happy or even joyful for me to proclaim that it is well with my soul. As a verse states,
“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.”
No matter what shall become of my earthly comfort, Christ has shed his blood for my soul. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on therapy trying to hold my crap together the last couple years. For those who know me well, know that there were some days I couldn’t even fake it until I made it. Because our lives had been relatively easy and stress free, with the exception of financial scare of 2008-2010, I had learned to stake my happiness and joy on my external circumstances. I accepted Christ as my Savior over 25 years ago; yet, even though I claim to let Him be, I’ve never had to make Him Lord of my life. To be honest, I didn’t need Him to do anything for me. I loved studying the word of God and tried applying it to my life. But, until you have experienced deep grief, sudden loss, a total change in lifestyle, lost your identity- I don’t know if it is truly possible to wrestle with the term “It is Well With My Soul.”
Some of you may think I am being a little dramatic here. Point taken, I have a flair for the dramatic. The basics of my story aren’t that terrible. Yes, my mom died suddenly, but I was adult. She met both of my children, they were old enough to know her and carry her memory with them. Yes, my grandmother with dementia lives with us. But, we have plenty space for her and flexible jobs. So much more was going on during that time, and other things have triggered out of that spiral. I lost my best friend, I lost other friendships, I lost the relationship with my sister, many family relationships have been strained. If I had enough strength to pack my bags during part of that time, I would have lost my husband and kids because I would have left. Even beyond that, so much was and has been going on. Living with a dementia patient has further rocked my world and cut to the core of my sanity. I am not proud of the person I am on many days as I don’t handle the situation or myself well at all times. But, here is what I do know. God is good. He has taught me a dependence on Him like I have never known. And, honestly had He not totally rocked my world on multiple occasions, I would never know the joy of this utter dependence. Because, my little perfect life, Williamson County living self didn’t need Jesus to make me happy. I had a great job, an amazing shoe salesman, and a gourmet coffee shop on every corner. There weren’t many problems that a good cup of coffee and a new pair of shoes couldn’t fix.
But, what about those moments where my money couldn’t make me happy. Let’s be real people. Money never made anyone truly happy. It can make you feel crappy in a better part of town with a cute outfit. But, money in and of itself can’t make me or you happy. Oh, but what about my kids. They’re cute, their smart, they’re talented; what about the times they screw up and can’t make me happy? Well, again, if I depended on my kids to make me happy, I’m in a sinking ship. If you could hear the shouts inside my house as we all try to get ready in the morning, you’d realize that as amazing and perfect as they are, my kids are not the source of my joy. Oh, yes, but I have a husband that loves me deeply. Yep, he’s amazing. Besides my mother, he’s the one who has consistently loved me when I was most unlovable. But, guess what- there are days when we don’t like each other very much. Friends, yes, I have some pretty cool friends. But, I have also had days of extreme loneliness where I felt like no one really got me. None of the amazing circumstances that make my life easier than most are a source of “It being well with my soul”. I can’t make it well. Nothing on this earth can make it well. My “wellness” is invested in my Savior, and the satisfaction of knowing that no matter what I have hear on earth, my true purpose and glory will be fulfilled in Heaven with Him.
Oh, what about this election, and the absolute udder mess that is going to be left? Us, self-employed, hard working, Bible believing Christians are sure to be doomed. Our nation is going to be doomed. Maybe, but doubtful. I certainly believe that we could learn a good deal as a nation by looking at the Roman empire. Heaven forbid we turn to the gospel as a nation for some good hearted advice. But, regardless of who is elected president. Regardless of what terrible policies are put in place. Regardless of what country makes us enemy number one, and regardless if we get blown to smitherenes- here is what I know. No matter who is President of the United States, Christ is King. Jesus is Lord. And, even if I lose it all tomorrow, IT IS WELL with my soul.