It is Well With My Soul: Election Edition

Will it be well with your soul on November 9, 2016? If many of the pre-election, partisan prognosticators are to be believed, Nov. 9, 2016, the day after the election, will be the end of America. Many have warned that Donald Trump will lead America into a nuclear war; Mr. Trump himself has warned of World War III if Hillary Clinton is elected. Others maintain that Trump is a “tyrant in the wings” and an “existential threat to the America we know” and that Clinton is sure to destroy the Republic by stacking the Supreme Court for eternity, coming after the Christians and for our guns.

These days there is no shortage of doomsday predictions or real problems. We are surrounded by death and despair, injustice and incivility, and trials of all shapes and sizes. Both our present problems and fears of the future can shake us to the core. It is during such times that I like to call to mind the testimony and work of the patron saint of Mauck & Baker at 1 N. LaSalle Street in Chicago. His name is Horatio Spafford.

Horatio Gates Spafford is best known for writing the great Christian hymn “It Is Well With My Soul.” Many know that he wrote this hymn after learning of the tragic death of his four daughters (11, 9, 5 and 2 years old) who were aboard the S.S. Ville du Havre when it sunk on Nov. 22, 1873, while crossing the Atlantic. Few know that Spafford was also a prominent Chicago attorney. He was a partner at a large and successful firm, owned a lot of property, and was close friends with the great evangelist D.L. Moody.

However, when the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 occurred, Spafford lost most everything he had. Devastated by the fire, he hoped his family would be encouraged by a trip to England where his friend D.L. Moody was set to preach. He could not join them right away as he was still picking up the pieces of his business in Chicago.

Alone in the dark and cold of a Chicago November, Spafford must have been shaken to the core of his soul. Like Job, he almost certainly faced the temptation to curse God and despair of life itself. But, thanks be to God, Spafford was blessed with a song. As he was leaving to reunite with his wife, he grabbed a pad of paper from the Brevoort House, a hotel located at what is now 1 N. LaSalle. On this pad of paper (a copy of which now hangs by my office door), Spafford penned the following hymn, which reminds us in the most trying times (no matter the President) that because of the love and finished work of Jesus, it can be well with our souls:

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 (it is well),

with my soul (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 hath regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!

My sin, not in part but the whole,

Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:

If Jordan above me shall roll,

No pain shall be mine, for in death as in life

Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

And Lord haste the day, when the 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.