Wednesday, May 18, 2016

"All is Well"



There is a saying, “All’s well that ends well.” The saying originates from a Shakespearian play of the same title. But, over the centuries it has taken on its own meaning. For example, for most people, this phrase means that if circumstances end well, then those circumstances were well. But, is that true? For example, does the end justify the means? If a good outcome comes from horrific circumstances, does that make the circumstances not horrific? You might think this post is heading towards an obvious answer. But, you might be surprised. After all, don’t all circumstances lead to eternity exactly as God intends? Does not God ultimately receive all glory for all that will become of man? If God ultimately wins through any and all circumstances, then doesn’t all end well? If so, are all of the sins of mankind “well”? The answer for the unrepentant sinner is no. But, for the Christian, the truth of how all ends, can lead us to display at least in attitude that all is well. This is as true today in our twisted culture as in any other time.

On Mothers’ Day weekend I had the privilege of attending my parents’ church in Eleuthera. On this subject, the pastor, Diallo Ingraham, inspired us all with the testimony of the Shunammite mother recorded in 2 Kings 4. This particular Shunammite woman was a married woman of great faith and wealth. She convinced her husband to build a special rent-free apartment for the prophet Elisha to use as he traveled. In return for her generosity Elisha prophesied for her to have a son – a gift that she never solicited even though she had no children. Years later, while the boy was still young, he came down with a headache and ultimately died in her arms. She then decided to travel to find Elisha. Her husband asked her why she was going to see Elisha, to which she replied, “All is well.” Upon nearing Elisha’s dwelling, Elisha sent out his servant to inquire of her. The servant asked her point blank, “Is all well with the child?” Again, she replied, “All is well.” Upon greeting Elisha, she practically demanded for Elisha to make things right. And, ultimately, God used Elisha to raise her son back to life. In the end, all turned out well. But, is that what she meant by saying, “All is well”? No, it was not the resurrection of her son that made all things well. It was her attitude instructed by faith in the God of all circumstances.

Why did the Shunammite woman say “All is well” upon the death of her only child? Was all well as she was declaring that all was well? Was she trivializing something traumatic? Was she detached from reality? Or, was she declaring and posturing the ultimate reality? In declaring the ultimate reality, her faith framed the present reality. Christian, is all well with you? Are there circumstances in your life worse than that of the Shunammite woman? Is your ultimate reality in God a reality that is well? Are you declaring it or resigning to the present reality of this world that you can see with your eyes? Shouldn’t we approach God in all circumstance with an attitude of peace that passes all understanding? Shouldn’t all be well with us at all times? I realize as I type that, it is a very difficult thing to actually do. Many of us have borne tremendous loss in our lives. But, the Shunammite woman also bore tremendous loss. And, her testimony tells us that all is possible with God, even peace at the worst of times. After all, if we could see what God sees, wouldn’t we have insurmountable peace? For God determines the beginning to the end towards his purposes and glory. And, He will keep His promises to us, His children. And, He promises that all will be well. Therefore, all is well. And, therefore, our attitude should be as well.

Our God not only determines the future, He commands it. He is sovereign, which is why we can trust in and rest in His promises. And, from the beginning of time, God has made to be that which was not. For example, Romans 4:17 refers to God in this way, “God in whom [Abraham] believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.” How many times as Christians do we call things as they exist instead of calling them according to the promises of God? The Shunammite woman stands even today as a testimony of what we can declare in all circumstances. When the culture crumbles around us – “All is well.” When evil is rewarded and good is punished – “All is well.” When we are treated unfairly – “All is well.” When the rain falls on the just – “All is well.” Is there any circumstance in which we should not be able to say “All is well”?

In closing, this probably reminds us all of the famous hymn, “It is Well With My Soul.” As a backdrop, Horatio Spafford penned this hymn. But, it was only after tremendous tragedy. In the late 1800s, after the failure of his business due to fire, he sent his wife and four daughters on ahead of him on a ship bound for America. The ship crashed drowning his four daughters. His wife sent back a telegram with only two words, “Saved alone.” As he too was crossing the Atlantic to reunite with his wife, he asked the captain to notify him of when their boat crossed over the site where his daughters drowned. It was on the bow of that ship staring into the unmarked, watery graves of his four daughters that Spafford began to pen these words. Christian, only God can know your pain as deep as you and even deeper. Paul declared in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” As you read these words, allow the testimony of the Shunammite woman and Horatio Spafford to inspire you to trust God to keep His promises to you.

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

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.

Refrain:
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (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 has 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 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.


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