Comfort in Two Quotation Marks -- Hope for the Grieving

My friend and his wife have an ongoing bet. If he fails to notice her haircut within 24 hours, he has to take her out to dinner.

 Sometimes he wins. Sometimes he loses.

It’s crazy, really, how someone who lives in the same house, sits at the same breakfast table, and sleeps in the same bed can miss something as obvious as a haircut. And it goes both ways—it took her two days to notice that he’d shaved the mustache he’d worn for six months.

There is a danger in the familiar. It’s possible we become so familiar that we fail to really see.

This happened to me at church recently. The worship leader announced the hymn for the day: “It Is Well with My Soul,” and launched into the familiar story behind the song.

“Horatio Spafford’s wife and four daughters were sailing to England when a horrible storm arose. . .”

I’ve heard the story a hundred times. But that day, as I sang the words from the hymnal, I noticed something I’d never seen before.

Not a haircut or a mustache, I saw something that makes this precious hymn even more meaningful and deep: two quotation marks.

The last verse of the hymn reads:

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.

A writer uses quotation marks to show he's quoting words from another source. And what was the source that brought Horatio Spafford comfort as he mourned the loss of his beloved daughters?

The Word of God.

“Even so,” is a quote from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14.

As Horatio sailed the ocean that had swallowed his children, broke his wife’s heart, and plunged him into a deep, gut-wrenching grief, the Word of God spoke hope and comfort.

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”

God used the truth Horatio Spafford had stored in his heart to speak comfort to his broken heart.

You will see your daughters again, the Holy Spirit whispered. Grieve, but don’t grieve as those who have no hope. You believe in Christ—that he conquered death, hell, and the grave. His resurrection proved that death could not hold him. Mourn your loved ones. Mourn them deeply, but fear not. You will see them again. They rest safely in the bosom of Jesus, and he will bring them with him on the last day. 

“Even so,” it is well with my soul.

If you’re grieving the loss of someone you love today, may God give you eyes to see the familiar. May his Word give you comfort and hope.

May it be well with your soul. 

“It is in the quiet crucible of your personal private sufferings that your noblest dreams are born and God’s greatest gifts are given in compensation for what you’ve been through.” ~Wintley Phipps


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