Sorrows Like Sea Billows

Horatio Spafford and his wife Anna have been on my mind today. The inspiration of his penning of the song “It Is Well With My Soul,” is heartbreakingly unfathomable.  First the death of their son, then financial disaster, then the deaths of their four daughters in a ship wreck.  He is said to have penned the song while looking over the location where the ship went down.

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

Having four daughters, and now having had to part with one for a time,  I can’t bear to entertain the thought of the agony of parting with all four. Though I know their pain only in part, the truth of the lyrics of his song still resonate deeply within me.  We have learned over the past eleven days the painful truth that sorrows do indeed roll like sea billows. Like Horatio and Anna, we entrust all to God, and whatever He chooses to allow “is well with our souls.” Our faith is sure and certain, anchored securely on the unshakable Rock.  However, having our foundation as The Rock does not prevent the waves from crashing down upon us, but, praise be to God it does prevent us from being swept away.

“By awesome deeds You answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation, You who are the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea; Who establishes the mountains by His strength, Being girded with might;  Who stills the roaring of the seas, The roaring of their waves, And the tumult of the peoples.”  Psalm 65:5-7 [NASB]

Brother Jimmy Jackson made reference in Sarah’s memorial service to waves of grief.  He shared how just as the waves of the ocean roll in, so will the grief.  Sometimes you are looking up and see them coming so you can keep your balance a little better, but other times they come from behind and knock you down.  Today is one of the latter days. A tidal wave of sorrow hit me as soon as my eyes opened this morning.   Thoughts of the many ways I am already missing her flooded my mind along with the staunch realization that I am going to continue to be bombarded daily by new ways I miss her.  Each agonizing realization is another wave and a challenge to stand or fall.

” I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?  My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.  He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.” Psalm 121:1-3 [NASB]

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,  to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”  Jude 1:24-25 [NASB]

So today I cling to His many rich promises that He will keep us from slipping, stumbling, falling or being swept away.  Brother Jimmy said the waves will gradually spread further and further apart over time, I will trust him on that and look forward to longer reprieves between them in the future.  In between the waves I can testify to sensing the peace like a river and I look forward to the time when those times are greater and the waves are less.  Until then we covet your prayers as we stand together as a family securely anchored to The Rock that is Higher than Us.

“From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”  Psalm 61:2 [NASB]

11 thoughts on “Sorrows Like Sea Billows

  1. Touchingly beautiful, Karen. So beautiful. How would we dare live without the Lord!

  2. Oh dear sweet family, my heart just breaks for all of you and the pain and grief you are enduring. You are constantly on my mind which brings prayers to my lips on your behalf. If I could sholder your pain, I would gladly do so. Please know that you are loved beyond any words that I could express.

  3. Karen, I’m been trying to think of what to say, but in end the best I could come up with is to keep doing what you are doing. When the sorrows roll: cry, cry to GOD, pray knowing that Jesus himself prays with you and for you (as assuredly as if he was in the room with you), surround yourself with the WORD (Job (not 3 of the friends), Lamentations (especially chapter 3), Habakkuk (last 3 verses), Psalms (many if you think of your sorrows as those threatening you) e.g. 13, 22 31, 56), surround yourself with great hymns (Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go, Blessed Be the Name of the Lord, The Sands of Time are Sinking, etc).
    Know that y’all are loved and cared for, and while no one can walk this path for you, you don’t have to do it alone.
    Know that HE understands your pain, and your sorrow and still loves you.

  4. This is beautifully written Karen. I have been so blessed by everything you have written. You all remain in our prayers.

  5. I really enjoy reading your recent posts. They really encourage me in many ways. I really hope and strive to have a faith like yours. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and feelings. The whole family is praying for all of you.

  6. “It is well” is truly a beautiful hymn that has brought so much comfort to so many believers. We sung it at our daughter’s funeral service. It is also the backing track on the short video that one of her friends made in memory of her:
    I am so sorry that you know the pain of sorrow and loss. I am thinking of you and praying for you.

    1. Victoria,
      I just read about your beautiful Leah and watched her testimony. What a precious young girl with a heart for the Lord. I can’t help but believe she and Sarah might have already found one another! Sarah had said for years that she wanted to marry an Irish man (for his accent), I think it all started after watching the movie Leap Year… anyway I can see them sitting together with Sarah beaming from ear to ear as she enjoys Leah talking and telling stories!
      Thank you so much for reaching out. I am lifting you up in prayer right now as well, as I’m certain the waves persist even four years later. Much love from the USA. ❤

      1. Dear Karen, I think that Leah and Sarah would enjoy each other’s company very much. Leah’s Journals bring me great comfort as I reflect on her love for Jesus and for others. She started writing her “Dear Future Husband” letters in February 2011, a few weeks after her 13th birthday. She also wore a purity (True Love Waits) ring which she got me to order from the USA for her. Leah’s departure left a huge vacuum in our lives as I’m sure Sarah’s has in yours.

      2. I’m so thankful you have her journals as well, they are such a blessing for sure. Most definitely agree, the vacuum is indescribably painful for all of us. I’m thankful for technology which allows broken hearts to connect and encourage one another around the globe. I’ve been reading your blog for a good part of the afternoon, and feel our sisterhood through Christ and grief. If you ever plan a trip to the US, you must come to Alabama. ❤

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