I have a confession to make – I hate the song “It Is Well With My Soul.” Now that I’ve said that “out loud,” maybe it’s just as well I won’t be seeing my church family for a few weeks? (Haha)
I’ll hasten to clarify that I don’t hate the text or the music. I have just always disliked it as a corporate song. It feels deeply personal, a private song of worship, something that is spoken from my soul to that of my Savior.
Since I’ve disliked the song for about as long as I can remember, I find it interesting that it has been on my mind since the first Delaware coronavirus case was confirmed and UD began closing down. The ensuing frequent shifting of policies and procedures, both at school and in the rest of life, have started to create a “new normal” where it seems that nothing is normal or stable. And in spite of my readiness to encourage students to use this “temporary normal” to do things we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do … I am aware that I’m not doing very well at embracing this temporary normal myself. Rather than focusing on moving forward, figuring out online courses, and seeking to serve my students and my community in an unstable time, I find myself more often reverting to a pattern of attempted productivity followed by wasted time travelling in pointless mental circles.
But in other moments, I sometimes feel an illogical sense of calm—the same calm that prompted an email to my students as UD started closing down which included the sentence: “For anyone who needs to hear this: Things. will. be. OK.” Even when I wrote that, I knew that things wouldn’t be “OK” in the strictest sense of the word—instructors had already been asked to move courses online, concerts were being cancelled, research was starting to get complicated, etc. But for a brief moment, I really did feel that it was “well with my soul,” even though all was certainly not OK in real life at that moment. God gives grace in our times of greatest weakness, and I’m comforted to know that He will always commune with my soul when I seek Him.
As I keep trying to embrace this temporary normal and reflecting on how God cares for my soul, I am encouraged by passages from various Psalms which seem to highlight a sense of a personal—and even isolated—searching after God, a cry from the writer’s soul to His. Psalm 61 (especially verses 1-3), Psalm 62 (especially verses 5-8), and Psalm 63:1-8 have been an encouragement to me, and I pray they might serve your soul as well.
Until the day when we meet together again and sing as one, I will pray that “it is well” with your soul, friends. I pray that we will each be able to use this temporary normal for what it is and that we will use our temporary physical isolation to let our souls turn to our Father in ways that we might not otherwise do. (And I think in future I’ll even joyfully sing “It is Well” in corporate worship as I reflect on how God meets us when our souls, singly or collectively, are in deepest need.)
– Jennifer Shafer
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