“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.”
These lyrics are part of a classic Christian hymn by Horatio G. Spafford (1873). Mr. Spafford wrote this following a series of tragic events in his life that included losing his entire investments in the Great Chicago fire, and the sudden deaths of his four young daughters in an accident at sea. His despair put into words has brought comfort to generations of Christians. Out of one man’s tragedy, a song was written that continues to this day to bless people and bless the Lord.
This song has been on my mind for a several weeks. We typically sing contemporary songs at church; however last Sunday, the worship minister closed the service out with It Is Well with My Soul. I stood there and smiled at the Lord’s perfect timing in everything.
Years ago when singing this song, I did not always believe, find solace, or live out the words coming out of my mouth. I was “well” with my job, education, husband, parents, friendships, etc; but I was not “well” with infertility. The sorrow I felt was deep as if it came from the inside of my bones out to the rest of my body; the kind of sorrow that literally aches. There is a line in the song Absence of Fear by singer/songwriter Jewel that goes “This vessel is haunted, it creaks and moans.” That is how I felt. I was living in a haunted vessel. My body creaked from the hardship that it had endured, and it moaned for what could have been.
Since my foster parenting experience and the adoption of my children, I have been completely overwhelmed with the sense of peace with all that has happened. It is difficult sometimes to put into words as there are not enough to describe how nothing else can replace the peace-maker that He is. His peace does surpass all understanding.
It is an experience that begins with the full acknowledgement of who He is in our lives and what we choose to believe about Him. Is He a father? Is He a maker? Does He offer His love freely to us or do we have to earn it? Does He truly plan our lives with purpose far beyond our imaginations or understanding? I once questioned these things and wondered how a father, maker, love-giver, and planner could, or better yet would allow pain and loss in His children’s lives. My earthly human instinct is to protect my children and prevent pain in their lives, so the vision of God allowing tragedy to happen has been a struggle for me to wrap my head and my heart around.
However, full acknowledgement of who I am in Him has led to further understanding of the dark times. The revelation of God in my life and how He has planned it has only brought me closer to Him. I look at my situation now and see His Hand working in all of it. Total acceptance of my infertility has been possible because of Him, not me.
I wonder sometimes if peace amongst each other could be a possibility if everyone were able to truly say “it is well”. It is usually not the violent act, illness, or ruined relationship that lingers on in our hearts and minds. It is the bitterness and resentment caused by these things that stain us. It is our expression of whatever is ailing us that can cause great strife.
I am so thankful to be able to live life without resentment about infertility. I am so thankful to know that I am His. The song It Is Well with My Soul has a deeper meaning for me now. My singing it is an act of saying to the Lord “whatever Your will is, I accept it and trust you”.
My writing and speaking about infertility is a testament to the Lord’s faithfulness. Whenever I am able to share just a bit of my testimony, it affirms me that the Lord can take tragic situations and turn them into ones that will bless others. Thank you Lord for carrying me along the path where I can not only sing, but shout, it is truly well with my soul.