"It is well with the man who is gracious and lends;
He will maintain his cause in judgment.
For he will never be shaken;
The righteous will be remembered forever.
He will not fear evil tidings;
His heart is (fixed) steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is upheld, he will not fear,
Until he looks with satisfaction on his adversaries.
He has given freely to the poor,
His righteousness endures forever;
His horn will be exalted in honor.
The wicked will see it and be vexed,
He will gnash his teeth and melt away;
The desire of the wicked will perish."
"Fear not" or "Don't be afraid"
are some of the most common words in Scripture,
used about 365 times,
one for every day of the year,
and don't we need them!
"It is well."
He will not fear evil tidings."
His heart is fixed."
As you might well have heard the story to the hymn already, I will try to be brief in its retelling. Horatio Spafford was an attorney in Chicago who was heavily invested in real estate
in Chicago and lost a fortune in the Chicago fire in 1871. At the same time his four year old son died of scarlet fever. He poured himself into helping the 100,000 left homeless there. He decided to go on a vacation to Europe a couple years later wanting to visit the D.L. Moody evangelistic meetings in England first. Detained by business, he sent his wife and four daughters on ahead. Out on the vast blue ocean, their ship collided with another and sank. Only his wife was found clinging to a piece of the wreckage, one of 47 survivors while 226 died. She wired her husband, "Saved Alone." As he passed that part of his journey on board the first ship he could book to join his wife, he wrote this hymn.
"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.'
My sin, O the bliss Of this glorious tho't,
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!
O, Lord haste the day When my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back As a scroll;
The trump shall resound
And the Lord shall descend,
Every time I read this story or sing this song, tears come to my eyes. He could say, "It is well."
He did not fear evil tidings because his heart was steadfast. He was a great example of one who gave to the poor after the Chicago fire even though he also had lost much. Even in great personal tragedy, he was like Job, yet he would praise God. The key to his peace, even when sorrows like sea billows rolled, was that he knew God had taken away not in part, but the whole of his sin. He knew the peace of a soul settled with God.
"The honour of a good men is their liberality to the poor...The fixedness of the heart is a sovereign remedy against the disquieting fear of evil tidings...He shall not be afraid, till he see his desire upon his enemies, that is, till he come to heaven, where he shall see Satan, and all his spiritual enemies, trodden under his feet." (Matthew Henry)
Where would the world be without the charitable giving of Christians? Worldly organizations
which accumulate funds to disperse tend to keep much more than they give. Often times, someone is busy lining their own pockets. Greed overtakes what should have gone to the poor.
There have been many times when God's people have blessed us. Because we chose for me to be a stay-at-home mom, we lived on a very tight budget for years. I remember fretting over not having enough money to even buy my young son pajamas when we were to go away to a district assembly and leave him with a church family. It caused me torment. However, there were those times when church people's generosity allowed us to go on vacations to go see and stay with family. Now, we still live on a tight budget, though not nearly as tight as those days. Yet, we have been blessed to be able to loan to those in need, often times knowing it will never be paid back. "It is well with the man who is gracious and lends."