Most have heard stories of tornadoes that wreak havoc in their path, creating destruction, devastation and loss. We've all seen footage of the gigantic wind tunnels picking up tractor trailers, and even people and animals.
What some may not know is that in the very center of the tunnel is the "eye" of the storm. It is there where some people have been lifted up within it, and they have reported it to be peaceful and quiet to the point of serenity.
It is that way with us, my friend. Storms can and will come into our lives, yet if we turn our eyes upward and allow the Prince of Peace to come, we will experience peace in the midst of the tornado of troubles that may befall us.
George Matheson was song-writer and preacher in the late 1800's. As a young man, he fell in love with a beautiful young woman. However, he was stricken blind, and at the news of his blindness, she broke the relationship, leaving him heart broken. It was with a broken heart, he penned the hymn, "O Love that will not let me Go."
Many of us sing the words without ever knowing it was birthed out of a broken heart.
Then, most church-goers know the song "It is Well with My Soul." But, did you know that Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) was a wealthy Chicago lawyer with a thriving legal practice, a beautiful home, a wife, four daughters and a son? He was also a devout Christian and faithful student of the scriptures. His circle of friends included Dwight L. Moody, Ira Sankey and various other well-known Christians of the day.
At the very height of his financial and professional success, Spafford and his wife, Anna, suffered the tragic loss of their young son. Shortly thereafter, on Oct. 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed almost every real estate investment that Spafford had.
In 1873, Spafford scheduled a boat trip to Europe in order to give his wife and daughters a much needed vacation and time to recover from the tragedy. He also went to join Moody and Sankey on an evangelistic campaign in England. Spafford sent his wife and daughters ahead of him while he remained in Chicago to take care of some unexpected last minute business. Several days later he received notice that his family's ship had encountered a collision. He received a telegraph from his dear wife: "Saved alone." All four of his daughters drowned; only his wife had survived.
With a heavy heart, Spafford boarded a boat that would take him to his grieving Anna in England. As he reached the place where his daughters had drowned, he penned those now famous words, "When sorrow like sea billows roll; it is well, it is well with my soul."
Philip Bliss (1838-1876), composer of many songs including "Hold the Fort," "Let the Lower Lights be Burning" and "Jesus Loves Even Me," was so impressed with Spafford's life and the words of his hymn that he composed a beautiful piece of music to accompany the lyrics. The song was published by Bliss and Sankey in 1876.
For more than a century, the tragic story of one man has given hope to countless thousands who have lifted their voices to sing "It is Well with My Soul."
Billy Graham tells the story in his devotional about a young Irish immigrant, Joseph Scriven (1820-1886), was deeply in love with a young woman and their marriage plans had been made. Not long before their wedding day, however, she was drowned. For months Scriven was bitter, in utter despair. At last he turned to Christ, and through His grace he found peace and comfort. Out of this experience he wrote the familiar hymn which has brought consolation to millions of aching hearts: "What a Friend We Have in Jesus."
Graham concludes: "Trouble will not hurt us unless it does what many of us too often allow it to do - harden us, making us sour, bitter and skeptical. The trouble we bear trustfully brings to us a fresh vision of God, and, as a result, we discover a new outlook on life. Trust God with childlike dependence and no trouble can destroy you."
I tell almost every person who walks through my counseling office that if we tell God everything and pour our hearts out to him when it seems our hearts may break in two, He will do more through our trouble than could have been done in a lifetime without it.
"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26.
(Kimberly Morgan, MA, is a wife and homeschool mom in Elkins. She also is a counselor at Cornerstone Christian Counseling/Kristin's Hope. Contact her at 304-637-1109.)