Is it Well with Your Soul?

  • Pete Johnson
Old sail ship in the water

Most of us have probably heard such phrases as, “Soul food”, maybe even read “Chicken soup for the soul”, and possibly heard the song, “I’m a soul man”. But the phrase or the idea of “a troubled soul” is probably more identifiable with most people, especially in the day and age in which we currently live. A “troubled soul” can best be described as the overwhelming feeling of despair or grief, a soul in desperate need of comfort.

Matthew records a moment in the life of Christ where he too, in his humanity, had a troubled soul.

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”  And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.  Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”  And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:36-39

There is an old hymn that speaks to this condition of the soul. I remember singing it growing up in the church as a young boy and even as an adult, It is Well with My Soul. The title of the Hymn, It is well with my Soul, is not a question, it is a statement of condition.

The composer of this wonderful anthem was Horatio G. Spafford. Spafford was a successful lawyer and businessman who lived in Chicago during the late 1800s with his wife and five children, one boy and four girls. In 1871 the Spafford’s lost their only son to pneumonia and their business suffered great loss during that same year in the great Chicago fire. This was not however when Horatio Spafford penned his Hymn.

Two years later Nov 21, 1873, having financially recovered from their lost business holdings, Mr. Spafford sent his wife Anna, and their four daughters, Annie, Margaret Lee, Bessie, and Tanetta, on vacation to Europe. Anna and the girls set sail on the French ocean liner, the Ville du Havre while Mr. Spafford would take another ship later due to pressing business matters in Chicago.

Four days into the ocean voyage, the Ville du Havre collided with another vessel and within 12 minutes 226 of the Ville du Havre’s 313 passengers, including the Spafford’s four daughters, perished in the cold dark waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

After being saved from the wreckage and taken to Wales, Anna Spafford telegraphed her husband this message: “Saved alone, what shall I do?”

Grieving and in deep sorrow, Horatio Spafford immediately boarded another vessel to bring his heartbroken wife home. As the ship he was on sailed over the spot of his daughter’s watery grave, it was there he penned these words.


  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.
  • Refrain:
    It is well with my soul,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.
  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
  4. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
  5. And Lord, haste the day when the 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. — Horatio G. Spafford, 1873

What a great testimony of great faith in Christ.  Can you declare today that it is well with your soul, despite the troubles that have overcome you?

It is not the overcoming of the feelings of despair, discouragement, or heavy sorrow, for these things will always plague us as long as we are in this world. It is the comfort of knowing that you belong to Christ, that he is with you, and that he has overcome the world.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33