Being confident that is well with your soul means that it doesn’t matter what happens in your life, you entrust that all things are ultimately from God and for your good. It means that you rest in the sovereignty of God.
The writer of the great hymn, It Is Well With My Soul, Horatio Spafford, a lawyer and a Presbyterian elder, wrote this hymn after traumatic events in his life. He had lost his four-year-old son in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and a couple of years later, he lost his four daughters who he had sent with his wife ahead of him to England on a ship that sank after it collided with another sea vessel. He had intended to join them later to help in an upcoming evangelistic campaign for D. L. Moody. His wife, Anna who survived sent him a telegram notifying him of what happened. It stated: “Saved alone….”
To this, he wrote:
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.
“Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well with my soul.” I believe most of us would find that difficult to say even after we endure much less, but his response meant that it did not matter the circumstance, he was confident that God was in control of all events even those that hurt. His response reminded me of what the Apostle Paul said:
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Philippians 4:11 KJV (my emphasis)
Some where in Mr. Spafford’s life journey, he must have learned to really trust God for all things, in all things. His response to his tragedy also reminds me of the biblical account of Job, who replied to his wife’s suggestion that he curse God and die because of all the loss he suffered, including the sickness in his body:
Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil? Job 2:10b ESV
The psalmist says:
The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. Psalm 19:9b KJV
I know that this may be a hard saying, but I believe that we must always bow to the will of God. He knows all things. He is infinite and we are finite. He sees what we do not, nor cannot see. He really does know how to work things out for our good because ultimately it is for his own glory.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV
The very certain way that we can know without a doubt that it is well with with our souls is knowing that our salvation is secure in Jesus Christ because he has paid our sin debt in full. It is knowing that we are his sheep, and that he is the Good Shepherd, who will lead us through every difficult trial, even the valley of death.