“When Peace like a river attendeth my way…”

Most of us are familiar with this line from the famous hymn “It is Well with My Soul.” We say, smiling, without thinking, that Jesus is good and we are thankful for his precious peace, and that we will always praise him and glorify his name.

But what about the next line, “When sorrows like sea billows roll”? 

Well, sometimes stuff happens. And the last thing we want to do is praise Jesus. Sometimes people get sick, or people die, or people ignore us, or people say hurtful things. Sometimes things break, or things fall apart, or things crumble, or things don’t come through for us. 

Sometimes there is no backup plan, or it’s all our fault, or we did something really, really stupid. We wonder about the purpose in it all and where God went for his lunch break. 

Sometimes, though, when we feel like hope is lost, a tiny voice in our hearts reminds us that this is only temporary, and we are filled with peace, because we are suddenly aware that God has prepared us for this moment. We remember that he is real despite everything, and that there is a reason to persevere in all the chaos.

When my laptop case broke last night and my computer ka-thunked onto the floor, I was surprised at the sudden peace and calmness that washed over me. When I was discouraged after the phone call that my grandpa has a kidney growth, I was surprised at how good it felt to pray and be encouraged by others. And then, prophetically, I had just purchased a pint of ice cream an hour before. God knew exactly what I needed. He blessed me with these things, and I am surprised at how much peace I have today in my heart.

We don’t ever have to worry that we won’t find peace. For we already know the true Peace, and he has given us a reason to keep going: he is here, he cares for us, and there is a plan ending in glory. 

Even when stuff happens and we are distracted by our situations, God promises he is with us. This is the glorious strength that keeps our eyes zeroed in on the finish line and fuels us with perseverance to keep going, no matter what tries to derail us. As Peter encouraged us, let us cast our cares upon him, because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). He sees us in our difficulties, and we can look to him.