Anticipation is terrible feeling, something is coming, just beyond your reach and it taunts you from the darkness. 4 years ago, at this time, I was anticipating another year of nothingness, an empty heart, my chest void of joy. If my future could have been described by my past in one word: bleak. I had no joy for life, I was terribly depressed, lonely and isolated.
Over the next few months, I continually cried out to God to lift me out of the darkness, but I sank deeper still. Why did God allow me to suffer? Why did I continue to suffocate in the pitch-black abyss of my own mind? I cried out to God still, I only heard my own weeping.
August 2016, I curled myself into a ball, the twisting knots of my stomach wrenched with anxiety, in this state of being, I cried myself to sleep every night. My birthday was approaching, and it only represented another year of my meaningless life on this planet. Though I had come to believe that God didn’t care enough to notice me, I knew he was there.
My own mind had become unbearable, and the hard walls I had built to protect myself finally crashed to the ground, shattering like porcelain and cutting my spirit to shreds. I could not live this way anymore, and finally I cried out to Jesus to change me. And he did.
It took more than surrender to God for him to free me, he waited for my permission to help me. I stopped fighting him, instead starting to give him trust little by little. Jesus proved himself to me, over and over and over. He has not failed me in what I have needed. Though anxiety sometimes catches me, and depression seems to lurk close by, and the hint of it has terrified me many times, I am more afraid of sinking back into the abyss than anything. But Jesus has proven that he is stronger than anything even death.
March 23, 2020, everyone is terrified, panicking around me, due to the threat of illness I have become isolated once again, anxiety has struck at me, teasing me once again. I make mistakes, I glance away from him, and I see fear. Depression grabs at me tugging at my clothes, as it attempts to drag me back to the depths of the darkness. I start to panic, scrambling away from the crush of the depths, but I remember the power of my God, and my spirit calms, and a peace, that makes no sense to those who don’t know him, engulfs my spirit.
Life may change, it has drastically already, those whom I love may suffer or die, depression may strike our economy, anxiety has gripped the people and they are panicking as scrambling to be free from worry. The plans I have made for myself may be crushed like fine porcelain smashed up of the surface to the earth.
But with Jesus it is well with my soul.
Horatio Spafford was a prosperous lawyer and Christian who lived comfortably with his wife, Anna, and four young daughters in Chicago (1871). That was the year of the great fire, it devastated the entire city including Spafford’s investments. Life continued. Horatio became concerned for his wife’s health, and planned an extended stay in Europe for his family. At the last moment he was detained by business, but sent Anna and their girls onward, they sailed to Paris on the Ville du Havre.
On November 21, 1873, the Boat sank in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean after being rammed by the British iron sailing ship the Lochearn. Nine days after the shipwreck Anna landed in Cardiff, Wales, and cabled Horatio, “Saved alone. What shall I do…” Her four daughters had drowned.
Horatio received his wife’s telegram and left Chicago to bring her home. On the Atlantic crossing, the captain of his ship called Horatio to his cabin to tell him that they were passing over the spot where his four daughters had perished. He wrote to his wife’s sister, Rachel, “On Thursday last we passed over the spot where she went down, in mid-ocean, the waters three miles deep. But I do not think of our dear ones there. They are safe, folded, the dear lambs.”
As he passed over their watery grave, Horatio wrote this hymn:
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.
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! —
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
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.
Bad things happen, but my Jesus is there in the dark giving light, seeking to heal what no doctor can touch, that is why he is the great healer. Because of Jesus I am well, I am well in my soul!
– Sara Ahnert