(Col. 3:15-17) 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
This text tells us that there is a connection between the peace of Christ and the word of Christ. The way for peace to rule your heart is by letting the word of God dwell in you richly. There are different ways to get the truth of the Lord in our hearts. One way is through songs. Music is an amazing gift from the Lord. The words stick with us with very little effort.
They comfort us and stir our hearts to places other things cannot accomplish. And strangely, you don’t even have to be a good singer for it to work. You can sing and cry at the same time. Your heart can be warmed with gladness as you sing.
This text in Colossians tells us to teach one another by singing psalms and hymns and spirituals. There are times in our lives that words alone do not suffice. But rather certain songs reach in through the muck and tragedy of life and touch our hearts in unique ways.
Though we do not prefer it this way, many songs are birthed in the agony of pain. The truth of these songs help us cope. Every word is a brief explanation of the chaos going on in our mind that makes our heart ache with pain. Past memories and present realities compete with each other. You never know whether you are going to laugh at a memory or weep over the emotions of the day.
While past and present fight it out in our souls, there remains another period of time that can set out hearts on the mountain of hope—the future. There is no other hymn that seems to do it best than the song “It is well with my soul.”
The man who wrote this song was Horatio Spafford. Mr. Spafford was a successful lawyer and businessman in Chicago. In 1871, his son died of pneumonia and he lost much of his business in the well-known Chicago fire. Some years later Horatio lost four of his daughters as the ship they were traveling on sank in the Atlantic. His wife Anna survived. Mr. Spafford boarded a ship to comfort his wife.
As he traveled the slow-moving vessel, he wrote the hymn “It is well with my soul.” I want to read the words that were penned in the midst of tragedy.
1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
(You might notice the first two lines acknowledge how life often goes. Life has its days of peace and sorrow. He describes peace as a gentle, rolling river and sorrow as the chaotic ocean he was traveling in to see his wife. Both of these emotions attend his path. Let’s move on.)
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul
(Though both peace and sorrow visit his path, Horatio claims to have been taught something important. Whatever my lot…whatever joins me on this path of life—peace or (and) sorrow—he says it is well with his soul. But how? What does he mean? Does he mean it doesn’t matter? Oh, no. Though present sorrows seem to be never ending waves of the sea there is something solid and strong under him. Let’s find out what this solid foundation is.)
2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blessed assurance control,
(If sorrow were not enough, there’s an enemy who likes to make it worse. Horatio understands that this enemy’s tools are that of repeated strikes (the meaning of buffet). He kicks you when you are down. He shows up in the night and makes war on you as your mind races with thoughts and sleep is nowhere to be found. Time feels different for us all though it is always the same. Somedays hours pass without a moment’s notice. Other days every tick of every second pierces the soul. It’s easy to do hard things fast but endings are hard too. You want it to end and you don’t want it to end. Yet, there’s something else that can control us. That is the next line.)
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
(We never feel more helpless than we do in the midst of tragedy. But Jesus has regarded our helpless estate. Though peace and sorrows and the enemy attend our path, so does Jesus. But how? By shedding his own blood for my soul. Though the past and present claw at us with pain and suffering, there remains hope for the future. Here comes the true reality of the soul even in the midst of sorrow and repeated trials.)
3. My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
(In one moment, God swallowed up the pains of this world that were never meant to be. He fixed the brokenness that plagues us. Sin is our greatest enemy. It separates us from God. It closes us off to what this world was meant to be. Pain and suffering are here because of our sin. But in the cross of Christ, Jesus destroyed the power and penalty of sin BY NAILING OUR SINS TO THE CROSS SO THAT I DO NOT HAVE THE BEAR THE PUNISHMENT ANYMORE. PRAISE THE LORD, PRAISE THE LORD, O MY SOUL! NOW THE FUTURE AS IT WAS MEANT TO BE IS THROUGH REPENTANCE AND FAITH IN JESUS FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF MY SINS. HERE’S THE FUTURE HORATIO LONGS FOR IN THE LAST VERSE.)
4. 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.
Is it well with your soul? Only peace can be found in Jesus. There will come a day when he will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Pain and suffering will be no more. But for now, sorrow remains until that trumpet sounds.
(Col. 2:13-15) 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
Be sure you can say, “It is well with my soul” whatever your lot in this world.