Contrary to secular thought, “joy” and “happiness” stand in stark contrast. Perhaps no one realized this more than nineteenth-century Chicago lawyer Horacio Spafford.
Spafford took a fierce financial blow when his real estate holdings were mostly destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1871. Just a short time earlier, he had suffered the loss of his only son. Desperately needing a rest, Spafford and his family planned a vacation to Europe.
Detained by business, Spafford sent his wife and four daughters ahead of him. During their voyage, however, their ship crashed and sank into the ocean depths. Upon safely reaching shore, Mrs. Spafford wired the somber news, “Saved alone.” The Spaffords’ four daughters, like their son, were now lost.
En route to joining his grieving wife, Spafford’s ship crossed over the exact patch of water where his children had been lost. There, Spafford penned the words to a soulful hymn that has since become an enduring source of comfort, It is Well with My Soul.
At this time, Spafford was certainly not happy. He was suffering as a grieving father. However, his hardship did not overshadow his faith in God and joy in Christ Jesus.
Happiness is determined by circumstances, but true joy is a gift from God at all times. If you are reeling from life’s pain, bring your suffering to the Cross. There, God will turn your sorrow into dancing (Psalm 30:11).
by Dr. Charles F. Stanley