Guest post by Laurie Batzel, author of With My Soul.
In the spring of 2014, I heard the hymn “It is Well with My Soul” for the first time. I was thirty-two years old, pregnant with my third son, and had recently received the devastating news that my best friend’s breast cancer had returned and was now terminal.
“When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul
The pastor at our church had explained to us the story of the hymn’s origin: the author of the lyrics was a wealthy man who had lost his business in a fire and all of his children in a tragic accident at sea. On the voyage to meet his grieving wife, the man stared over the edge of the ship at the exact spot where his children had drowned. There, he wrote the words to this now-famous hymn.
Too choked with tears to sing along, I simply listened to the powerful words that rang with unalterable faith in God’s love, no matter what trials befall us. Later that day, my friend posted on Facebook that the choir at her church had sung that exact same hymn, and it had brought her great comfort.
Six months later, the hymn was played at her memorial service.
I struggled for a long time with overwhelming grief at the loss of my dear friend. She was only thirty-two years old, a mother with two young children the same age as my own. She was one of those people who spreads joy to everyone they meet. When I decided to channel that grief into writing, I knew that hymn needed to be woven into the story in one way or another. While the plot of my book, With My Soul, is inspired by my late grandmother’s courage as a single mother in rural North Carolina during the late 1940s, the heart of the story is my friend, CJ.
Her faith never wavered, her joy never faltered, and she walked through each day with the same undaunted spirit that flows through this hymn. My only goal in publishing this book was to pass on that same spirit to anyone who reads it, and in doing so, pass on the joy she left to me.
About the Author
Laurie Batzel is an author of historical and contemporary women’s fiction and romance novels. She lives in Northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband, four two-legged children and two four-legged children, Stuart the corgi and Midge the Rescue pup. She is perhaps best known for perfecting the chocolate chip cookie recipe. You can find her at her website https://lbatc2.wixsite.com/mysite