I have served as the worship leader at Transcend Church for a little over three months now. While I have led worship almost continually over the past 22 years in some capacity, this is the first time I have been “the leader” of a worship team instead of me just playing guitar and singing. This has certainly been a growing experience for me and I am so thankful for the members of the worship team and their talents and hearts for worship.
Few are aware of what goes into choosing a worship set – it’s far more than just picking songs you like. I typically read the Scripture for the upcoming sermon and prayerfully choose songs that go along with the sermon. Yet, sometimes it’s honestly just following the Holy Spirit’s guidance and how I “feel” about a particular song fitting in with the set.
This week was definitely a “feel” week as the passage did not easily lend itself to songs. While I was doing all of this, I considered that this Sunday was Mother’s Day but didn’t give it much thought.
As I leafed through my (gigantic) binder of music, a few jumped out at me, unrelated in theme at first glance – “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” would start the morning as a great reminder that God is trustworthy, merciful, and faithful. We’d do “Even Unto Death” and “Give Me Faith” to remind ourselves that the God we serve is worthy to be followed and trusted, no matter what. I chose a few other songs to fill in the set and thought I was done.
I grabbed my guitar and began playing through the set but it still didn’t feel complete. Later that afternoon the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” – one of my favorites – came into my head and I knew that was what was missing. In addition, I decided to add Bethel’s song “It Is Well” to the end.
If you aren’t aware, the back story to the song “It Is Well” is one of the most powerful I’ve ever heard. Mr. Spafford lost his four daughters in a shipwreck, all at once. Four daughters. And yet, he penned the words to this poem (now song) and declared that it was well with his soul.
How can that be?
I contend that…
It can be well with your soul despite your grief.
It can be well with your soul despite your circumstances.
It can be well with your soul despite your questions and uncertainties of God’s actions.
This can all be true because it isn’t dependent on you – it’s dependent on God. When you believe the truth of who God is (faithful, loving, merciful, kind, generous, good), when you believe His Word and His promises (there IS life after death for those who trust in Jesus!), and when you trust Him fully, there is peace within your soul that surpasses understanding (Phil. 4:7). We’ve lived it. We know this is true.
We have a beautiful sign in our home that quotes this hymn, and it has been a great reminder to us as we’ve learned to live without Tori here on earth. We’ve truly learned that “whatever our lot” we can be at peace when we are trusting the Lord and following Him.
As I led worship this morning, the emotion of missing Tori began to well up inside as we sang the final verse of the hymn:
And Lord, haste the day when my 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!
The emotion was two-fold: first, remembering the tragic circumstances that brought this song into this world and how deep the pain is when you lose a child; second, I long for this day – the day when Jesus returns and we are reunited with our precious Tori (and other loved ones who have gone before us). I cannot wait for that day and for the eternity with her that will follow.
I got through the song, but as the sermon began my eyes were teary as I pondered the joyous reunion that awaits us.
As the Bethel song by the same name says,
Through it all, through it all, my eyes are on you.
Through it all, through it all, it is well.
So let go, my soul, and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name.
The same Jesus who calmed the storm that threatened to wreck the ship He and His disciples were on is the same Jesus who lives today and loves us deeply. He is still in control, even when we can’t feel it.
Being well in your soul doesn’t mean that things are perfect, or that you pretend to not be in pain. It simply means that you trust Jesus more than you fear your circumstances.
Yes, my Tori is gone. Yes, my heart longs for her. Even so, it is well with my soul.
I don’t know why I was led to put the songs on the set list today that I did, but I know that, if nothing else, my own heart was encouraged by the words of these songs. Hopefully the Lord used them to speak to others, as well.