It Is Well with My Soul

by Michael Hickox

Therefore we do not faint, but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is for the moment, works for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal“ (II Corinthians 4:16-18).

These three verses show Paul’s mindset toward the sufferings he endured as a Christian. No matter how difficult his life on earth was, the glory he brought to God and the promises of an eternity in God’s direct presence made everything worth it. Paul’s attitude sets a good example for us to follow when facing hardships. God desires His children to be so focused on Him that when things are tough, we will faithfully obey Him with endurance, contentment, and even a sense of joy (Heb. 12:1; Phil. 4:11,4). This attitude brings to mind the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul.” The words to the hymn were written by Horatio Spafford shortly after the death of his four daughters. The song's message is that no matter how hard our temporal circumstances are, life is OK as long as we are right with God. Notice the second verse of the song:

“Tho’ Satan should buffet, tho’ trials should come, Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul.”

While Paul provides a positive example of this attitude, the exodus generation of Israelites, whose murmuring we are warned not to imitate (I Corinthians 10:10), responded to trials very differently. God fulfilled His promise to lead them out of bondage (Exodus 12:41; Genesis 15:13-14). Though they saw the “great work” He did in defeating the Egyptians (Exodus 14:31), the Israelites lacked gratitude for and trust in God. They constantly murmured against Him, insisting it would have been better for them to stay in Egypt (Exodus 16:2-3; 17:2-3; Numbers 14:1-3). The difference between this murmuring and an attitude like Paul’s is not ease of circumstances but faith. A sense of joy, gratitude, hope, and peace even in the midst of sorrows is a by-product of the spiritualmindedness God’s children can have. This attitude enabled Paul to write (while in prison), “Not that I speak in respect to lack, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it” (Philippians 4:11; cf. Philippians 4:12-13). As far as Paul knew, the next day could bring sorer trials than he had ever faced. Yet, Paul was content knowing that He had been redeemed from sin through Christ (Ephesians 1:7). If we are right with God, we can have unspeakable joy (I Peter 1:8), peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:6-7) and hope that anchors the soul (Hebrews 6:19).

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