I’ve been singing this song to the boys at night right before they drift off to sleep. It’s a song I learned as a very little girl, one I remember hearing both my grandmas sing – one through the thickness of a German accent, and one with the hint of a southern lilt. When they both came to a certain part of the song, their husky voices and glimmering eyes made them seem to sing in unison.
I never really understood why, and I wish now I had asked. I imagine it may have had something to do with Oma’s survival in Nazi Germany, or the baby Grandma lost at birth, or maybe some other personal struggle they each overcame. What I am certain of is that the tears did not fall out of anger or resentment, but in confidence and reverence, out of hearts running over with a certain kind of thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is an interesting posture to assume after challenge or defeat, but there is something to be said about the lessons we learn in those spaces.
Trust. Faith. Contentment. Peace.
Even when life doesn’t go our way. Even when we’re left wounded and bleeding. Even when we don’t know how we will move from this day into the next.
Because when we do wake up to the morning of another day, by God’s grace we know we can heal, and we can find tomorrow again, stronger and more alive than today.
This summer marks five years, living in a season of certain transitions, that continue to ebb and flow through our days and weeks. It’s always summer that makes these transitions so palpable, so real, so draining. I started feeling it at Mother’s Day, the progressive pull on my heart to fear, to be anxious, to stress about so many things that are just beyond my grasp to control. Worrying is such an ugly kind of heart-suffocation, but still I struggle, and it persists.
One night at bedtime, the tears started falling silently down my cheeks, and it was hard for me to steady my voice to keep singing.
“Why are you crying Mommy?” my oldest asks.
Because I know I’ve found that secret moment in the song, unleashing the emotion and tension of living in peace among uncertain days in an imperfect world.
“Baby, both of my grandma’s used to sing this song, and your grandma too. We all cried. I want to sing it to you so you remember this song someday when you need to.”
So you remember, dear boys, when your life sails over rough waters, that you are not alone.
That there is certainty in Christ despite the uncertainty of our days.
That it can be well in your heart, when it is not well in your world.
That you can hold your head high in confidence and reverence, with hearts running over with thanksgiving, because God is still so good.
And that even in our darkest of days He is still, so very inexplicably near.
It is Well with My Soul (verses 1, 2, 6 & chorus) | Horatio G. Spafford, 1873
Before Horatio Spafford became a famous hymnist he lived through an extremely trying and devastating season of life. He lost his son in 1870, his financial stability in 1871 as a result of the Great Chicago Fire, and his four daughters in a ship wreck in 1873. It is said he wrote the lyrics of this profoundly beautiful hymn while passing the place his daughters died.
All of us carry burdens. All of us know challenge and struggle and defeat. Today I’m praying this kind of peace into your heart and mine.