The cherished hymn “It is Well with My Soul” was written while Horatio G Spafford struggled under the clouds of darkness and despair. His wife and four daughters were aboard an ocean liner that sank in the north Atlantic. Only his wife survived. Spafford learned of the tragedy when he received his wife’s two word telegram, “Saved alone”
Making it well with our soul when we are struggling through the dark hours of life requires healthy helpings of God’s grace. Perhaps our struggle will be eased if we learn from those who have lived under dark clouds before us.
It is likely that no words bring more pain and grief that the ones that brought an ache to David’s heart—“He is dead.” The story is found in II Samuel 12
David’s first son by Bathsheba was very sick. The king’s response to the child’s illness is instinctive. Second Samuel 12:16 says, “David therefore besought God for the child, and David fasted, and went in, and by all night upon the earth.” David went through the gamut of emotions—grief, apprehension, guilt. They are all normal; every one of us experience them.
But David’s actions reflect a man who had a deep respect for God. He prayed that the Lord God would restore the child to health. He even fasted in concert with his prayer. The king fell prostrate before God, showing his total dependence on Him. David knew that for the severely ill child to live, it would take a miracle from the hand of God.
Have you been there yourself? Have you stood at the bedside of a dying child, hoping and praying that God would somehow prove the doctors wrong? That’s what King David did.
Having prayed to our extremity, we find it difficult to hear those unwanted words. David’s servants didn’t want to tell him (v.18), but the king knew. When he asked, “Is the child dead?” the sad response was, “He is dead.”
It is during the dark hours that the most difficult test of our faith comes. Our reaction to the words we do not want to hear must be both natural and supernatural. It will be natural when we cry, when we cave into the arms of others, when sorrow and grieve. That’s what human beings do. But those who have faith in God do more.
It’s important to notice the total absence of any rancor in David’s reaction to the news of his son’s death. He does accuse God; he does not curse God; he does not question God. Here is quiet resignation of sovereignty of God.
“Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat” (v.20). Here is prayerful humiliation in the presence of God.
While there was the slightest hope of recovery for the child, David did all he knew to do to move the throne of God. But God had spoke; the child was dead. David reasoned, “But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast?” Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me” (v.23). Here is responsible acquiescence to the will of God.
Easy to do? Not at all! In fact, David’s reaction to this dark hour is so unnatural he had to explain it to his servants (vv 21-23). But David had learned how to make it well with his soul. Instead of lashing out at God, he had learned ho to let God’s peace permeate his mind, his spirit, his soul.
“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.”
If you are facing David’s grief or anything similar to it, if you are struggling under the clouds of darkness and despair, allow God’s peace to neutralize your sorrows. Your grief is natural, but worshiping God and getting on with your life is supernatural. God wants to turn your sorrows into joy. Let Him do it. Remember, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Ps. 30:5). Is it time for it to be well with your soul? Is it time for you to let the joy back into your life? END.