It seems like this time of the year we spend more time with family and friends. There are holiday parties, family gatherings, shopping together, caroling, cookie baking and celebrations all around. From about mid-November through the New Year (well actually until after Valentines Day for me) my soul moves between joy and sorrow. Oddly enough, both have become part of my holiday ritual. I often spend quiet time with candles burning and the lights turned low thinking about family and friends who have died. I miss them terribly but when I slow down just a little to reflect, I of course feel sadness, but I also feel their presence and it is peaceful.
This is true for so many and that is evident in the number of churches now offering a "Blue Christmas". A service that is quieter and more reflective. Sometimes it's just too painful to sing Joy to the World. As we enter into this season I am reminded of the story behind the song It Is Well With My Soul.
Horatio Spafford lost his infant son to scarlet fever, then several months later lost almost everything in the Great Chicago Fire; two years later he and his wife and four daughters were going to England on a luxury liner. It ended up that he couldn't go right away so he sent them on ahead, four days into the trip they were broadsided in the fog and the ship sank in less than 12 minutes! His wife somehow survived but now all of his children were dead. He was on his way to join his wife. They were four days out when the captain said they were crossing the place where the ship had gone down. It was then that he wrote this poem - that later was put to music. POWERFUL.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
This time of year is a celebration for some but for others it holds a great amount of sorrow. Sometimes we experience both at the same time. Blessings on your Thanksgiving and Christmas wherever your "soul is."
The hymn, It Is Well With My Soul.
The story behind the song.