Living Gracefully has a New Home

Thank you for stopping by - in an effort to provide a better experience and offer more to my readers we have built a new home All of the articles you can find on this site have been imported to that site.

Subscribe Now: Feed Icon

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It Is Well

This is part three in my series on Trust. You can read the first two articles here:
Part One: Waking Up to our Need for God
Part Two: Wake Up and Lean Into God

At the end of Part Two I posed this question for you to reflect on:

If you woke up tomorrow and everything you had was gone, everyone you loved was no longer in your life, every part of your life that put a smile on your face was no longer there, would you still have joy in your heart, would you still have God's peace in your life, would you still know that despite all that you lost, despite any pain you may feel all will be well?

I'm sure that for some of you that question may have put you off a bit. "All is well? How could all be well if I lost everything I ever loved? Joy in my heart? How could I have joy in my heart at such a time?"

Let me clarify for just a moment. First of all, joy and happiness are two very different things. Happiness is generally a feeling or emotion that we have in the midst of doing something enjoyable or when we hear a good joke or the like. Happiness is fleeting. I am not speaking of happiness when I speak of joy. Joy is something deeper, it is the deep seeded smile in our being that despite all obstacles all will be well. It is possible to be joyful and have sadness at the same time. Sadness too is more of a fleeting emotion, unlike despair which is also deep-seeded within us. So when I ask "would you still have joy in your heart?" I am not ruling out the fact that you will feel sadness and probably loneliness. But, would you still be able to find within you the joy and peace that belongs to those who trust in the Lord?

Let me illustrate with one of my favorite stories:
There was a wealthy business man in the 1800's named Horatio G. Spafford who by all accounts had it all. He had a beautiful family, a thriving business, expansive real estate holdings - by all standards - life was good. Then his son died at a young age. Just as his life seemed to be getting back to normal, he lost most of his real estate including his home to the great Chicago fire of 1871. All he had built and worked for was gone in only days. As if that wasn't enough, a couple years later he and his family were set to sail to England for a vacation. At the last minute he was required to stay behind for a few days to tie up a business transaction. His wife and four daughters traveled ahead and he was to meet them later. On their journey the ship carrying his wife and daughters collided with another vessel. The telegram that his wife sent to him read, "Saved Alone." His daughters were killed in the tragic accident.

Imagine for a moment the horror of this news. This man had literally lost everything. While he was on a ship to meet his wife, he passed by the point where his daughters had been killed, in that moment Spafford penned these words.

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.

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.

What a powerful witness to God's grace in our lives when we trust in him. One may wonder how Spafford could have such a willingness to trust that all would be well despite what he had been through. That willingness to trust comes from a place of faith. Spafford knew already that this life was not all that there was for him or his family. He knew that God's promise was still true and he knew that despite the personal pain and suffering he had been through, Christ's love and sacrifice were proof that "it is well" indeed.

Spafford knew in his heart of hearts that there was still more grace and more glory to this life. This is not to say that there were no tears, I'm sure Spafford suffered greatly from these tragedies. Still, his faith had taught him that there was more to this life, that despite the pain and sorrow of his life God's promise was still great and heaven was still waiting."Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say... it is well, with my soul."

Picture for a moment the worst tragedy in your life. Picture a time in which something horrible happened in your life that you were not expecting. It could have been the loss of a parent or grandparent, the sudden death of a loved one in a car accident, or the loss of your home in a natural disaster. Most of us have never experienced the catastrophic loss of multiple children, or the devastation of a massive fire. However, we've all experienced tragedy in one way or another. Now picture yourself back there in the midst of that tragedy. No matter what it was. Picture yourself standing in the midst of it all and saying with heartfelt conviction:
"Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well, it is well, with my soul."
This is the level of trust to which we are each called. It is a trust that brings great freedom in our lives. When we can truly give it all over to God, even in the middle of great pain and suffering, then we can be free to live a life of joy.

Read Part Four of this series "Understanding God's Plan" here.