My wife and I recently helped chaperone a trip with several teenagers to Splashway water park. While there were several rides to choose from, we spent our water time alternating between the lazy river and the wave pool. One slow and relaxing. The other periodically pounding us with the ocean’s energy. 

I got the bright idea to wade into the wave pool and sit in chest-deep water during one of its quiet moments. That was nice – for a little while. It didn’t work so well when the wave machine resumed its pounding a few moments later. We soon found ourselves repeatedly pushed backward, until my wife abandoned me and retreated to the edge of the pool.

As I walked into my office the next morning a wall hanging caught my eye. A gift from our daughter and her family a few years ago, it’s a poster of the lyrics and music for the hymn “It Is Well With My 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.”

It occurred to me how that lyric paralleled our experience, although the puny waves which uprooted us were nothing in comparison to true “sea billows.” At times we were floating calmly alone. At other moments we were uprooted and moved. And yet there was a constant reality we could count on. God is always with his children.

That was the reality Horatio Spafford, who wrote the lyrics of that great hymn, found to be true in the shadow of enormous tragedy. A successful lawyer and businessman, he and his wife endured unthinkable loss. 

She and their four daughters were on an ocean liner bound for Europe in 1873 when it collided with another ship. The ocean liner sank and all four girls perished, along with more than 200 others. Mrs. Spafford was rescued and, upon reaching Europe, telegraphed her husband, “Saved alone. What shall I do?”

Mr. Spafford rushed to book passage to Europe. His ship’s captain informed him when they passed through the area where the tragedy had occurred. And during that journey to reunite with his grieving wife is when he penned the above words, along with the heartfelt prayer that comprises the last verse:

“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.”

Maybe your life is like a calm lazy river right now. Perhaps it feels more like a rolling ocean. Don’t make the mistake of measuring God’s presence or care by either. Smooth sailing or rough, God will never forsake you if you are his child. Count on it! 

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