It is well with my soul...how can you sing that when so much in our world seems to present evidence to the contrary? Famine...struggle....lies and scandals....a world that seems to have gone off any script any of us were taught in school...friends who live with devastating illnesses....people grieving. The list could go on, but you get the point.
It perhaps feels like this song is trying to wallpaper over such pain and suffering...but it is actually born out of it. The author wrote this hymn after his wife and child died at sea. Notice, the opening lines,When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll
Those words are not just some aesthetic, they are autobiographical. The writer knew all to well the sorrow billowing like the sea...in fact...because of the sea.
When the writer goes on to say, Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, "It is well, it is well, with my soul." Again, I don't think this is because of a denial of reality, but to say that the present reality doesn't define who I am fully. This moment of brokenness, pain, hurt and harm is real. It is honest, but there is also more to me than this.
One of the things pain does is blinds our eyes and clogs our ears. Suddenly the fullness of life doesn't seem so full. It is like everything is replaced with brokenness and tears. To sing this hymn is an act not of denial but defiance. I will not be defined only because of this illness. I will not be defined only by the racist/sexists/homophobic remarks. I will not be defined because at the heart of who I am is whose I am. I beloved to God who calls me beloved. That truth helps my shy soul peek and peer it's head out wondering if it is safe.
How do you feel well in your soul?
Where do yo want to push back, saying, "Yeah but, it doesn't feel well here?"
Where do you need that trace of grace to work/wiggle its way into your life?
I pray these questions, along with this hymn helps you as we start out on this holiest of weeks.
Grace and peace ~~