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It Is Well With My Soul – Pastor/Elder Greg Mattson

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‘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. It is well with my soul.”

                                                                     “It is Well with My Soul” (Horatio Spafford)                                                                                                                            

Once again, the Holiday season is upon us.  For many this is a time of joy and celebration but for others it can be a time of sadness, depression and worry.  We celebrated Thanksgiving this week and as the body of New Life, we have a lot to be thankful for.  Admittedly It’s easy to be thankful when things are going well in our lives but it becomes much more difficult when we lose a loved one or when facing ongoing medical or financial issues.  When facing trials like this we are told in James to “Count It all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness, and let steadfastness have it’s full effect, that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.”

I know this past year has been a difficult year for many reading this.  Some of you have lost a son or daughter, a sister or a brother, a father or a mother.  Some of you continue to deal with ongoing medical issues that seem overwhelming and may be life threatening, yet we are promised that by going through these trials our faith will become unwavering and we will be made perfect and complete in Jesus Christ.

The story of Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) is a great example of what this actually looks like in real life.  Some of you know the story but it’s worth revisiting, Horatio was a successful lawyer and real estate investor from my hometown of Chicago.  He and his wife, Anna, had one son and four daughters and lived a life of philanthropy and service in their home church.  In 1871 they lost their only son at the age of four to scarlet fever.  A few months later the great Chicago fire reportedly wiped out most of their real-estate holdings.  In 1873, tragedy struck again.  The Spafford family had planned on visiting Europe but due to business obligations, Horatio remained behind while the family traveled by boat to Europe.  During the trip, the boat Anna and their four daughters were on struck another boat and sank.  Only his wife Anna survived.  Horatio voyaged to pick Anna up and as his ship neared the very spot where his daughters had drowned, he was inspired to write the lyrics for the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul.“

From my perspective, Horatio did something which wasn’t humanly possible.  How could someone write a worship song in the midst of a storm after losing all 5 children?  The answer is clear.  Horatio wasn’t acting out of his own strength but rather focused on Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross.  Rather than look at himself as a victim, he chose to remain steadfast in the promises of God.  The very thought that Christ regarded his helpless estate and chose to go to the cross for him overshadowed any earthly loss he had suffered, knowing that he would ultimately be reunited with Jesus (and his family) eternally.  This reality led to him facing his heartache with a song of thanksgiving.

This has been a tough year for many of us and there will be more obstacles and trials coming our way. Yet we all have a choice: do we become bitter or do we consider all trials with joy knowing that the sovereign God is in control and using them to perfect us so that in the end we will be complete and lacking in nothing, since we will be in Christ.  May this be our focus daily!                                                                                                        Happy Thanksgiving, greg


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