Diary‎ > ‎2019‎ > ‎March‎ > ‎Lent 2019‎ > ‎

5 It is well

8 AprilIt is well with my soul with Chas Sandhu; summary awaiting proof checking.  Listen again via Spalding Baptist

Introduced by Evan McWilliams as an excellent hymn, Chas said that It is well with my soul was one of the first hymns he learnt; it is full of teaching of how we should live the Christian life.

We know that Christ is not a disappointment to us.  In Romans 5.5 we read ‘Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit and has been given to all of us.’  This hymn was written out of loss by Horatio G Spafford who was a successful lawyer and a businessman in Chicago with a loving family his wife Anna and five children, they were not unaccustomed to tears and tragedy.

In life we face different things and these people faced some difficult challenges.  Their young son died with pneumonia in 1871 and in the same year much of their business was lost in the great fire of Chicago yet God in his mercy and kindness allowed the business to flourish once again.

On November 21st 1873 the French ocean liner Ville du Havre was crossing the Atlantic from the US to Europe with 313 passengers on board.  Among the passengers were Mrs Spafford and her four daughters.  Although Mr Spafford had planned to go with the family, it was necessary for him to stay in Chicago to help solve the unexpected business problem.  He told his wife that he would join their children in Europe in a few days later; his plan was to take another ship.  About four days into the crossing on the Atlantic, the shipped collided with a  powerful iron-hulled Scottish ship the Loch Earn.  Suddenly all those that were on board were in great danger.  Anna hurried with her four daughters onto the deck and prayed that God would spare them if that could be his will.  That is touching, isn’t it?  They wanted God’s will to be done in their lives, even at a tragic time, or to make them willing to endure whatever awaited them.  Within approximately twelve minutes, the ship had slipped into the dark waters of the Atlantic carrying with it 226 passengers including all four children of the Spafford family.  A sailor, rowing a small boat over the spot where the ship went down, spotted the woman floating on a piece of wreckage; it was Anna, still alive.  He pulled her into the boat and they were picked up by another large vessel.  In nine days they landed in Cardiff, Wales.  From there she wired to her husband a short message that began ‘Saved alone what shall I do?’  Mr Spafford later framed that telegram and placed it in his office.  Another of the ship’s survivors saved who passed away years later recalled Anna saying ‘God gave me four daughters, now they have been taken from me; some day I will understand why.’  Things happen in life that we don’t understand; some day, when we see Christ, we will understand.

Mr Spafford booked passage on the next available ship and left to join his grieving wife.  With the ship about four days out, the captain called Mr Spafford into the cabin and told him ‘We are over the place where the children went down’.  According to Beth Spafford, a daughter who was born to them after the tragedy, Mr Spafford wrote the words of It is well with my soul whilst on his journey.  Anna gave birth to three more children, one of which died of pneumonia.  In August 1881 the Spaffords moved to Jerusalem.  Mr Spafford died and was buried in the city of Jerusalem.

Mr Spafford knew the words of Philippians 4.7 very well: And the Peace of God passes which all understanding shall keep your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus and our speaker believed that the very first verse was written because of that.

In the second verse When peace like a river attended my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my Lord has taught me to know and to say it is well, it is well with my soul.

The first verse of this hymn states that in sorrow, whatever comes our way, we can know the peace of God in our lives.  Chas said how knows this peace of God in his own life: in 2017 he was in and out of hospital with various infections and at the same time his mum was taken into hospital and she died there.  Chas was unable to go down to see here so I know how sorrowful things can be.  I wasn’t even able to go down to her funeral.  In those times, we need to know that God’s peace overwhelms us.  Chas thanks God for the peace that came into his heart at that time, though it was a difficult time for him, though he was sorrowful, the peace of God filled his heart.

In John 16.33 Jesus said ‘I have said these things to you that in you, you may have peace.’  Isn’t that good, that in Christ we can have peace in us?  In the world you will have tribulations; listen – the Christian life isn’t easy, we will have troubles and tribulations but Jesus said ‘Take heart, I have overcome the world.’  What a promise that is; we will face difficulties in life.  We have this confidence, this hope in Christ Jesus to walk with us in every situation we face in life.  We all are children of God; we have to have the attitude of Job – he lost everything in one day, he fell on his knees and said, ‘The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’  Do you bless him when you are going through difficult times?  It’s hard at times, isn’t it?  Yes, it’s difficult, but the peace of God that passes all understanding lives in our hearts and lives as we have surrendered our lives to Christ Jesus.  (Job 1.21)

Romans 15.13 says May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing so that you, by the power of the Holy Spirit, may abound in hope.  We have this hope in Christ no matter what happens, we know whose we are, we know that he will bring peace into our hearts.

When Jesus gave the commission to the disciples in Matthew 28.19-20 he said he would never leave them or forsake them: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you today and the last thing is ‘I am with you always, even to the end of the age’.  No matter what we face in life, I knew when my mother died and the hurt and I couldn’t get down to her and even pray with her at the time, I knew that the peace of God that flooded into my heart alive.  We have this treasure in Christ Jesus that we must never, never lose because Christ is alive in us.

The second verse goes on to say ‘Though Satan should buffet…’  How many have had trials and tribulations?  In life, we face it; as Esther Rantzen used to say ‘That’s Life!’  We have issues.  Though trials should come let this blessed assurance should control that Christ has regarded my helpless estate and shed his blood for my soul.  What a wonderful saviour!

In Ephesians 1.7, the Amplified Bible puts it like this: In him we have redemption, deliverance and salvation through his blood, the remission – forgiveness – for our offences, shortcomings and trespasses.  In accordance with the riches of his generation for his gracious favour upon us.  God’s gracious favour is upon you!  He loves you with an everlasting love.

James 1.2-3 says this: Count it all joy when you are meted with trials of various kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  I believe Horatio Spafford was tested of his faith and out of that testing he wrote that wonderful hymn that we can sing and enjoy and understand.

1 Peter 1.6-7 says this: In this you rejoice though now, for a little while, if necessary you have been grieved by various trials so that the testing the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  When you are tested and face trials it is for your good.

Mountain top experiences are great, aren’t they, when we’re on the top of the mountain and everything is going well?  Where we learn is in the valley, where we learn to be mature and grow up in Christ.  Chas is sure that Horatio faced this situation in those words, in writing this hymn.  Our fight is in the spiritual realm as we fight our enemy who wants to destroy our faith is Christ, in Jesus, we need to stand in those times.  We need to rejoice in Christ for Christ is our saviour.

Reading through verse 3, Chas noted what happened when he gave his life to Christ at the age of 16, something happened in his life that transformed him.  He understood that Christ had taken everything that he had done wrong in his life. He wasn’t proud of what he used to do, involved with a gang of youngsters but he knew that when he gave his life to Christ something changed in him, something happened that transformed him, made him different.  The bliss, the glorious thought that our sin was nailed to the cross.  At Eastertime we need to remember that everything that we’ve done, present, past or future has been nailed to the cross of Jesus Christ.  We have been gloriously set free from all our sins.  God is good.

John 3.16-17 were the first verses that Chas learnt when he came to know Christ.  He likes to change the words slightly to read For God so loved Chas that he gave his only beloved son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish… If I believe in him I shall not perish but have eternal life.  But God did not send his son into the world to condemn him but in order that the world - I - might be saved through him.  Sometimes it is good to cry and grieve for yourself at what God has done for you, for each one of us that he sent his only begotten son.

1 John 1.2 says to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.  We are the children of God.  When we walk out there, we have something different in us, we have Christ living in us.

In verse 4 For me be it Christ  hence to live.  Chas thought that Paul penned that ‘For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.’  No pang… As a youngster, Chas used to find that word really funny; there were twelve of us came into the church and some of the words never made any sense to us until we understood.  Pang means real remorse, real sorrow.  Horatio was going through real remorse, real sorrow, losing his children and he wrote these words:

No pang shall remain, no remorse shall be…  in death as in life thou wilt whisper peace to my soul.  Isn’t God good – his peace he will give you, in every situation we face.

When Chas became a Christian, Jesus radically changed him, his life in a wonderful way.  But it caused a lot of friction with me in the family.  Noting that he came from a Sikh family and they disowned him for four years – that was tough.  They didn’t want to know him because he’d become a Christian and everything they could do to do to stop him.  My brother said he’d get over it in three years, three weeks.  Chas sees him often now and he says to his brother that these three weeks are very long!  His family who didn’t want to know him can’t do enough for him now.  How God changes people’s hearts.  All we have to live for Christ and show the love of Christ to our family and our friends, to those who are around us, our work places, wherever we are – if they see Christ live in us they will see the difference, they will find the difference.  His brother has said to Chas to think again because he’s getting closer to God than he thinks.  His nephew has come to know Christ, his family has come to know Christ, his brother and his family are reading the daily word.  Little by little you just have to live your life for Christ and people will see the difference in you and want to know what has happened to you.

Through those difficult times in his life, where his parents and brothers didn’t want to come to his wedding and didn’t want to know him but he had to keep his spirit right for Christ.  God blessed them because he changed their hearts after four years so they could have relationship again.  When his father was dying of leukemia, in that first time, he allowed Chas to pray for him.  We can make a difference.

Chas said that’s why he loves this hymn so much – though troubles come they won’t they roll over him, there may be some pain in the living but Christ has regarded our helpless estate.  God has done great things.

Chas returned to the passage in Philippians 1.21: For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain.  ‘If I’m going to live on this earth I’m going to live for Christ.  If I die it’s even better, I’m going to see my Lord!  I’m going to be in his presence – I can’t wait for that!’

Verse 5 reads: But Lord ’tis for thee, for thy coming we wait; the sky, not the grave is our goal.  It would be amazing to fly through the air without any help from an aeroplane.  One day we all be like supermen.

1 Thessalonians 4.16-18 For the Lord himself will be sent from heaven with a cry of command; the voice of an archangel and with the sound of a trumpet of God and the dead in Christ shall be raised first and those who are alive, who are left will be caught up together with him in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  So we will always be with the Lord.  Therefore, encourage one another with these words.  We need to encourage one another that Christ is coming soon.  We need to read that bit until he comes - that’s a promise.  We will do this until he comes.  We’re waiting for his return, for him to come and touch our hearts and lives.  It’s a joy; we are waiting for the day when we will see Jesus face to face, when we fall down at his feet and worship the Lord our saviour and hear those words, ‘Well done you good and faithful servant.’  Our speaker didn’t want a mansion up there, he just wants to be with Jesus.

The last verse:  Lord haste the day when my faith shall recite.  When we look upon his face what joy shall fill our hearts.  The clouds will be rolled back as a scroll, the trump shall sound and the Lord shall descend.  Even so, it is well with my soul.  Jesus promised that he’s coming back, as recorded in Matthew 24.30.

When Jesus returns again, he’s not coming as a meek and mild child, he’s coming as the King of kings and Lord of lords.  And every knee, the Bible says, will bow when he returns.

Revelation 5.11-12 says this: Then I looked around the throne, the living creatures and the elders, the voices of many angels numbered myriads upon myriads, thousands upon thousands saying Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing.  That’ll be us singing there; we are privileged because we are going to sing a song that the angels will never, never be able to sing because of the redemption we have in Christ Jesus.  They will never know the redemption that we have known.

I look forward to the day when all our troubles of this life are over and we bow down and worship the king of kings and the Lord of lords our saviour Jesus Christ the son of God who shed his precious blood for our salvation, then we will sing It is well, it is well with my soul.

Chas concluded with a verse from Revelation 21.4:  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  He was sure Horatio was reading this verse.  There shall be no more death, no more sorrow, no more crying, there shall be no more pain for former things have passed away when we’re in the presence of Jesus

The video shown at the close of the meeting: Guy Penrod & David Phelps live in Jerusalem