#66 : It is Well With My Soul. Hymn by Horatio Spafford : 1873.
One can learn a lot from attending a funeral. Eulogies are very interesting and I often learn things about the recently departed that I didn’t know while they were living. This is particularly so if I am there to support a loved one of the deceased; sometimes I am left thinking, gosh I really would have liked to have known this person. Personally, I am not a big funeral goer; for me to be in attendance there has to be a really good reason to be there. Perhaps this is because there simply have been too many funerals of folks close to heart and home to attend over the years. This year there has been a lot of funeral opportunities, some I have attended, some I have attended on line, some I’ve simply sent condolences. And you know, all sorts of folk pass away, from my dear old neighbour who would have been 99 later this year to folks far too young to have to leave, but they do.
Funerals have a personality. Recently I attended the funeral of a young mother who lost her battle with cancer. When I arrived the car park was already so full that I thought those cars must have been for an earlier funeral and those folks had not all yet left but as the hundreds of mourners there to pay their respects filled the audiotorium it became clear all those cars were there for the same purpose. Some funerals are really big, some are small and private, some are full of joy and hope of the resurrection, some are a celebration of a life very well lived, some are incredibly sad, just too sad! And some seem to be souless. I guess a lot depends on how one lived their life and also on how one departed this life. It is not uncommon for people to say, “it was the saddest funeral I have ever been to” or “it was the most beautiful funeral I have ever been to”.
At a recent funeral, and one beautifully done, I was reminded that this is a date we all have. Solomon, considerd to be the wisest man to ever live, put it this way in Ecclesiastes: 7: v 2 -4
It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. (NIV) Funerals remind us that this is truth.
I am not pessimestic at all but I do know that I will pass from this life. Long ago I decided to live my life as though I had limited time left. I asked myself, if I were told I would be gone in the next few weeks what would be important? And my answer was this, apart from wanting to make every effort to secure my soul for eternity, simply I would want the people I love to know they were loved.
I have only one song for my funeral. It is beautiful. I love it. And I try to live my life so on that day it can be sung with confidence that indeed, It is well with my soul.
Horatio Spafford wrote this hymn after experiencing great tragedy and trauma. It is a song of faith. Spafford had lost his 4 year old son in a fire, was financially ruined and then lost his 4 daughters when the ship they were aboard sank in the Atlantic Ocean, only his wife survived. Later, as he crossed the Atlantic to meet his wife in England, he penned the words of this song as the ship carrying him passed by near where his daughters had drowned. It is a song that could only be written and, for that matter, sung by someone who believes the soul is eternal.