It Is Well With My Soul~The Rt. Rev. Michael Beckett, OPI

Oh, Y’all……   What a week for so many people.  The devastation and loss of life because of that hurricane.  Wow.  And then a couple of friends of mine got some not so great news health-wise; another friend is battling cancer…..  And THEN, yesterday I was looking at the scriptures appointed for today (coz that’s kinda what I do, ya know) and the Reading from the Book of Habakkuk in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament dontcha know) included this:

How long, O LORD?  I cry for help
 but you do not listen!
 I cry out to you, “Violence!”
 but you do not intervene.
 Why do you let me see ruin;
 why must I look at misery?
 Destruction and violence are before me;
 there is strife, and clamorous discord.   

Wow, huh?  So many times we feel that God just doesn’t care.  That he has abandoned us.  That we’re alone in our struggles and there is no help to be had. 

Sometimes we want to give up, and we get despondent.  And ANGRY.   And we hurt.   And we wonder WHY in THUNDER God made this happen, or LET this happen.  Just like Habakkuk.

Lemme tell ya about my Daddy.   Daddy was a man of great faith.  Daddy was our family’s pillar of strength.  Our hero.  There wasn’t a thing he couldn’t fix, be it a boo boo in need of a band-aid, my dryer that only worked when Daddy was at my house, (I hated that dryer) or any vehicle made in his lifetime.  And then he got sick.  Way sick.  Terminally ill.  Cancer.  Mesothelioma.  Daddy couldn’t fix it.  The doctors couldn’t fix it.  And my father, being the man he was, said, “It is well with my soul.”  And he started to teach us. 

He taught us that God does not ‘give’ us the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things that happen in our lives.  Life happens.  Crap happens.  People make poor choices.  Natural disasters occur.  We get sick.  Nowhere does Holy Writ support the claim that any of these things is God’s doing.  What kind of God would we worship if he, indeed, sent us all the trials and tribulations and suffering and horror for which He is blamed?

Many Christians have suffered to the point of death at the hands of executioners, (consider the Holy Martyrs.) Many suffer to the point of death at their own hands. All we can say is that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). This may not solve our depression, but it does give us perspective. Even if our depression has caused us enormous doubt, this can be helpful. 

When “bad” things happen to any of God’s children, God is grieved and suffers with us, and this was experienced most vividly in the hurt and suffering of Jesus Christ for all humanity. Any “bad” thing which happens is never the last word. Rather, God is the deepest and last word, and that word is love and eternal life with God.

The Bible clearly teaches that God does not cause us to suffer. For example, the Bible says that when we go through trials, it would be a mistake to say: “I am being tried by God.” Why? Because “with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone.” (James 1:13) In other words, God never causes the trials we face or the suffering that follows. To do so would be wicked, but “God does not act wickedly.” (Job 34:12.)

If God does not cause us to suffer, then who or what does? Sadly, humans are often victimized by other imperfect humans. (Ecclesiastes 8:9) Additionally, we may face calamities because of “unexpected events”—that is, because of simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) The Bible teaches that ultimately “the ruler of this world,” Satan the Devil, is responsible for human suffering, for “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (John 12:31; 1 John 5:19) It is Satan—not God—who causes people to suffer.

God is aware of our suffering. From the very start of human suffering, not a single teardrop has gone unnoticed by our loving Father, whose “watchful eyes” see everything. (Psalm 11:4; 56:8) For example, when his worshippers in ancient times were being oppressed, God said: “I have certainly seen the affliction of my people.” But was he only vaguely aware of their pain? No, for he added: “I well know the pains they suffer.” (Exodus 3:7) Many people have found comfort in that truth alone—the thought that God is aware of everything we suffer, even the trials that we or others may not be aware of or fully understand. (Psalm 31:7; Proverbs 14:10.)

God feels for us when we suffer. Our Heavenly Father is not only aware of human suffering but also deeply moved by it. For example, God was sincerely troubled when his ancient worshippers faced trials. “During all their distress it was distressing to him,” says the Bible. (Isaiah 63:9) Although God is vastly superior to humans, he feels empathy for those who suffer—as if their pain were in his heart! Indeed, “Our Heavenly Father is very compassionate and merciful.” (James 5:11) Additionally, Our Heavenly Father helps us to bear our suffering. (Philippians 4:12, 13.)

We must also remember that our Lord Jesus knows what it is to suffer, to mourn.  He wept at the grave of Lazarus, he wept over Jerusalem, and he suffered horrifically during His Passion.

God will end all human suffering. According to the Bible, God will bring an end to the suffering of every human on the planet. By means of His Heavenly Kingdom, God will drastically change the human condition—for the better. Regarding that time, the Bible promises that God “will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) What about those who have already died? God will bring them back to life here on earth so that they too can enjoy life free from suffering. (John 5:28, 29) Will anyone be plagued by painful memories of past suffering? No, for Our Heavenly Father promises: “The former things will not be called to mind, nor will they come up into the heart.” (Isaiah 65:17.)

When he was first diagnosed, Daddy said that, if he got better, he got more time with Momma.  If he didn’t, he got to see Jesus.  It was a win/win for him.   And he said, “It is well with my soul.”

Let me share the lyrics to “It Is Well With My Soul” with you.

It Is Well With My Soul  (Song by Bob Kauflin and Sovereign Grace Music)

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 is well With my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come

Let this blest assurance control

That Christ has regarded my helpless estate

And has shed His own blood for my soul

It is well With my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul

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

It is well With my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul

And 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

Even so, it is well with my soul

It is well With my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul

‘Cause of You, Jesus, it is well

It is well With my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul

Songwriters: Christopher C. C. Stafford / Philip Paul Bliss

It Is Well With My Soul lyrics © Bethel Music Publishing, Capitol CMG Publishing, Integrity Music, Universal Music Publishing Group, Walt Disney Music Company, Warner Chappell Music, Inc

I guess what my point here is, no matter what happens to us, God is with us.  We may not see him.  We may not hear him.  But he is there for us to give us peace.  To comfort us.  To help us say, “It is well with my soul.”