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Peace Like a River

March 2010

Sorrow billowed over the soul of Horatio G. Spafford and his wife, Anna, in 1870 Chicago. Spafford supported D. L. Moody and was a successful lawyer, but things turned unbelievably bad. The Spaffords' only son died of scarlet fever at the age of four. A year later, their real estate holdings were wiped out by the great Chicago fire of 1871. Then in late 1873, D. L. Moody was traveling around Britain as an evangelist, so Horatio decided to take his family to England. Just before setting sail on the French steamer "Ville du Havre," Horatio had a last-minute business development that caused him to stay back and send his family on their way without him.

From New York, Horatio went west to Chicago and his family went east to England. But nine days later, he received a telegram from Anna, "Saved alone." The French steamer had collided with an English vessel, sinking in 12 minutes and claiming the lives of 226 people, including the Spaffords' four daughters. Only a plank floating beneath Anna's unconscious body kept her. Anna is said to have heard a voice, "You were spared for a purpose." She is said to have thought, "It is easy to be grateful and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God."

Spafford boarded a ship for England upon hearing news of his family. As he grew near the place where the French and English ships had shipwrecked, the captain notified Horatio. He went to his cabin and wrote the words to the now comforting hymn, "It is Well with My Soul." The words come from 2 Kings 4.26: "Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? Is it well with thy husband? Is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well," referring to the woman from Shunem.

The first verses of this great hymn go like this:

"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.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for my soul!

It is well with my soul! It is well, it is well with my soul!"

Peace and quiet--it's what we want more often than not. Where does that kind of peace come from? What is that--peace like a river?

O that you had hearkened to My commandments!
Then had your peace been as a river, and
Your righteousness as the waves of the sea. Is 48.18 cf Ps 119.165

Under the old covenant, it was basically "do this and you will live." In the new covenant, it is basically "believe and you will live; believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." The Gospel is the good news of peace with God through Jesus Christ (Acts 10.36).

God is the Source of peace. God is the God of Peace. Jesus is the way of peace. First, we can have peace with God. Secondly, we can know the peace of God. Thirdly, we can find peace in God. Paul prays for believers to know and have this peace.

May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace
At all times and in all ways.
The Lord be with you all. 2 Thessalonians 3.16

In 1 Thessalonians 5.23 Paul prayed, "May the God of peace Himself make you completely holy." In Romans 15.33, something similar: "May the God of peace be with you all." Peace comes from both the Father and Son and Paul often begins his letter with something like "Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (Colossians 1.2b)

The Greek word for peace is
eirene and means the absence of hostility. Paul has this notion of peace in mind when he says that Christ has broken down the walls between Jews and Gentiles, that Christ is our peace, who has made both one. (Ephesians 2.14) Faith in Jesus Christ leads to peace with God. (Romans 3.22;

The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, includes more, like health, harmony, prosperity, well being, soundness. When Jesus says, "Peace I leave with you" (John 14.27) and "Peace be with you" (John 20.19), He is implying more than an end to conflict. Jesus is Prince of Peace (Is 9.6). Jesus is the Peace that enables us to have peace with God, satisfaction of divine wrath with the payment of the penalty for sin. The atoning work of Jesus Christ brings reconciliation with a holy God who needs propitiation (appeasement) from His wrath. Jesus offered Himself a sacrifice for sin, appeasing God's holy recoil against sin, against everything that is contrary to His nature, against all that is death and that leads to death. (Romans 3.25; 1 John 4.10)

Not only can we have peace with God; we can know the peace of God. That peace is what we see in Philippians 4.7ff. The peace of God keeps our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. If we follow the example of Paul, the God of peace will be with us. With this kind of peace, we are at peace with God and with the world. Knowing God and His ways, how He is, how He responds, gives us peace, the peace of God. We see things from His perspective. We have a long view on life. The peace of God is to rule in our hearts (Colossians 3.15). We are to follow peace with all people (Hebrews 12.14). The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace. (James 3.18)

Peace in God is a place of rest, quietness in the presence of God. At this point, we are at peace, at rest, in a state of equilibrium. Jesus gives us His peace as a gift. He lives in a state of peace. (John 14.27) In Him, we have peace. (John 16.33) He gives us His peace that we might have peace in God.

In 2 Thessalonians 3.16, Paul asks for peace at all times, continuous peace, like a river. He asks for peace in all ways or in all places--not for a peace enforced by military might like the Pax Romana, but for peace in the broadest possible sense. How do we get there? Isaiah 26.3, 4 gives us a clue:

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You;
Because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever
For in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.

Paul continues in his prayer to ask for the Lord's presence, to have God as part of ourselves as a permanent Source and guarantee of peace. He also asks for God's grace to be with us all.

The Spaffords had three more children, one of whom died in infancy. In 1881 they moved to Jerusalem and founded a group called the American Colony; its mission was to serve the poor. They found that peace for which Paul prays. I pray you do, too.

March 1st Rev. Jim Craig, Kroy Ellis, David & Betty Patten, and Wanda Barlow left in response to the fourth call of God to Israel, to the Galilee and to Jerusalem as part of MCM world missions. Find more at in the prophetic section of the web site and in an excellent article "Jerusalem's Destiny," which can be accessed through the site's internal search engine. I encourage you to investigate!

At Craighouse® we are actively ministering to those seeking healing, deliverance, help, and hope. For the current schedule, go to If you're in our area, join us!

We thank you for giving. Please continue to give generously, gladly, graciously, and as the Holy Spirit guides. You are touching lives through your gifts to Mary Craig Ministries; and we pray God's richest blessings upon you. We pray that you be found of Him in peace at His appearing!

Serving the Lord of Glory,

Mary Craig

P.S. Go to Order books from our Catalog section using PayPal. Worship with us 4:30 p.m. Sundays. Grow and flourish in small group ministry at Craighouse®, located in the Pompano Plaza at 114 E. McNab Road, Pompano Beach, FL 33060. Log on to for a map and more events and Bible studies. Reach MCM at 954-491-7270. Send in your prayer requests.

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth,
Wherein dwells righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that you look for such things,
Be diligent that you may be found of Him in peace, without spot. 2 Peter 3.13, 14

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