Music can soothe souls in times of crisis, knit hearts back together
I love music.
I especially enjoy reading the interesting stories and testimonies of the authors who wrote many of the songs that are sung in churches across the nation.
I want to share two of those stories with you.
In 1873, a successful businessman lost all his material possessions in the great Chicago fire.
This did not trouble him too much for he had set his affection on heavenly things and not on temporary, material things.
However, just a few weeks later, when his wife and children were on board the “Ville du Havre” to visit France, their ship was rammed by an English vessel and sank within two hours, claiming the lives of 226 people.
Although his wife survived, all four of their children perished in the icy waters. While en route to Europe to join his wife, the man was given the tragic news and later shown the spot in the mid-Atlantic where the shipwreck occurred.
Although heartsick with grief, Horatio Spafford suddenly felt an inrush of supernatural peace and comfort as he looked to the Lord for strength.
With tears streaming down his face, he picked up a pen to record his feelings, and from his well-blest heart flowed these thrilling words: “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!’”
Those words were later put to music and the song, “It Is Well With My Soul,” has brought peace and comfort to thousands of people ever since.
Several years ago, Enrichment magazine published an interview with Geron Davis, author of the song “In the Presence of Jehovah.”
Geron and his wife, Becky, had been living and serving in a church in Irving, Texas for two years.
He said, “Thoughts of transition began to tug on our hearts, but we were really happy where we were. Why did God want us to move? Still, we sensed it was time.
“I’ll never forget the drive from Dallas to Alexandria, Louisiana. Were we crazy for leaving what we loved? As I drove, I asked God to show us that we were in His will.
“The next morning, we left on a weekend tour with the chorale (a smaller group of singers from the choir). During the weekend, as we spent time with our new family, we sensed God knitting our hearts together. As we shared time in the late-night hours, a melody and lyric began to grow in my heart. On the bus ride home, something incredible happened. One by one, people began sharing testimonies. A prayer meeting broke out. Tears flowed. In the middle of all this, I started singing my new lyric: ‘In the presence of Jehovah, God Almighty, Prince of Peace, troubles vanish, hearts are mended in the presence of the King.’
“As the group began to sing, His sweet presence filled the bus and saturated all of us. It was powerful. Sometime later, God anointed Becky to write the first verse and we co-wrote the second verse. That was over 20 years ago, and God has been using us ever since.
“I will never forget that the birth of this particular tune was the Heavenly Father reminding a scared kid that He was still on the throne. That lesson and those lyrics have reminded us many times that every answer to every question can always be found in the presence of the King.”
As you can see, many of the songs we enjoy today were written by people experiencing God in times of struggle and heartache.
So, whenever you need to be encouraged remember, some of the best music you’ll ever hear is in the local church.
Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia.