How Sweet the Sound – It Is Well With My Soul
It Is Well With My Soul is a beloved hymn. It was written by Horatio Spafford. Grief was a constant part of his life. His son died of pneumonia a short time before he lost a fortune in real estate as a result of the great Chicago Fire of 1871. Desiring a rest for his wife and four daughters, Spafford planned a European trip for his family in 1873, but had to remain in Chicago at the last minute. The ship his family was on was struck by another ship and sank quickly. Only his wife survived. Spafford wrote It Is Well With My Soul as he approached the area of the ocean thought to be where the ship carrying his daughters had sunk.
Something To Talk About:
- God draws us close to Himself: The world looks at suffering in a negative light, as misfortune. But as Christians, we should be able to see the bright side of suffering and how its purpose is to bring us back to God if we’ve strayed or closer to Him. God doesn’t want us to suffer for sufferings sake, but so that we can better know Him. It’s clear if we look at the example of Jesus’ suffering. He underwent the ultimate suffering all for the sake of you and I. But that wasn’t the end of it. He didn’t suffer to suffer. His suffering was for our salvation, it showed us how God loves. His pain brought us closer to God. It might be helpful for you to think about that next time you are going through a difficult time: How might God be providing me an opportunity to grow through this suffering?
- God grieves with us: It is neither unusual nor inappropriate for any of us to ask such questions during times of deep grief, even if we think of ourselves as persons of faith. But God grieves with us. He is at our side during our loss, often not speaking yet knowing our pain and sharing in our suffering. Isaiah 53:3a says, “He [Jesus] was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.”
- God gives us a church family for support: Because church is like a family reunion. The Bible says that we are brothers and sisters in Christ and part of the family of God (Ephesians 2:19; 3:14-15). As such, we gather to fellowship with one another, encourage one another, and help each other. We need each other’s support. Every day we either need comfort or need to comfort others. Romans 12:5, 10, 15 says, “so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other…Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other….Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.”
- God uses grief to help us grow: Grief, loss, and pain are an inevitable part of life. But God uses these things to help us grow. Think of your growing pains as a child, learning things the hard way. Without that pain, you wouldn’t be who you are today. This is how faith is; it is often like growing pains.“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2–4). If God didn’t nudge us along into the unknown, we would never experience the wonder of growing into a deeper relationship.
- God gives us the hope of Heaven: Even in the midst of pain and trials, God does give us something worth trusting in tough times. And that’s Him, and Him alone. Jesus is your hope for the future. One day Jesus Christ will come back, and He will set all of the wrong right. Good will triumph over the bad. Love will triumph over hate. Righteousness will triumph over evil. He’s going to make it all right, and we will spend eternity in Heaven with Him.
- God uses our pain to help others. I believe there is a side to suffering we miss when we focus solely on our pain rather than on God’s greater purpose. If you can see the purpose beyond the pain, you will understand God’s ability to leverage the suffering in your life for greater things. This Scripture states that it is God’s will not that you simply suffer aimlessly, randomly, or mindlessly but rather, on the contrary, redeems your suffering, giving you the grace to endure it for the purpose of serving as a witness to the power of the gospel. People—our children, our spouse, our friends, our boss, our extended family, even skeptical nonbelievers—will observe the way we handle suffering, and they’ll learn from us. When they see us endure the same kind of hurts and hardships they experience while remaining humble, faithful, and prayerful before God, they’ll pay close attention, curious about the source of our strength.
- How can you tell that your grief is affecting you more than you thought it was?
- What has helped you most and least when you were grieving? Why?
- How is God a friend in your heartache? How does a relationship with Jesus help you endure times of sorrow and pain?
- What are some ways Christians communicate the mistaken notion that “to show grief is not spiritual”? When does grief become excessive?
- How would you defend, biblically, that it is possible to be grieving deeply and yet be trusting God fully?
- How should we interact with brothers or sisters who are suffering?
- What has helped you most and least when you were grieving? Why?
- Healing takes time. Agree or disagree and why?
- How can joy come into the life of a Christian through, or as a result of, pain and sorrow? Is this a work of the Holy Spirit?
- What would you say to someone who is experiencing pain or sorrow in order to encourage them and remind them of God’s love for them?
- How did this week’s message change the way you view grief?
Take one thing home with you
Grief has many faces. None of them are pretty. We know all things are possible with God, and yet bad things happens and you feel at war with yourself and your faith. In trials, what is often lost is hope. When in the midst of a storm your faith can be stretched like a rubber band to its maximum. It can seem like it could break. There are times we want to give up. But there is always a reason why God stretches our faith. So many people look at past trials with the benefit of hindsight and they look at that trial differently. They can see God’s fingerprints all over it. It is no fun to go through the trial. Most people wish their life was less complicated. But life is a dance full of joy and grief. God has a purpose in our trials. His plans for us are good, and we should find comfort in that. We are never sure why He does what He does because His ways are not our ways. Our hope is in Him.