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It Is Well With My Soul This Thanksgiving

Dear Friends,

One of the delights of owning your own business is the relationships you build with people all around the world. Thanksgiving always reminds me of this. I am grateful I work in an industry that fosters good working relationships and the formation of many friendships. I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked in so many different countries, including South Africa, Hungary, and Australia remotely this year. I am grateful for the many customers we have been able to work with during this unusual time. I feel blessed that our organizations has been able to support each other in it.

This time of year has a lot of meaning to me as we consider Thanksgiving and the establishment of the USA, its values, a Godly US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Every year, Americans focus on giving thanks for the harvest and all that God has bestowed on them. Many have faced trials, deep hurts, and loss of loved ones, but through it all we can say as the Hymnist wrote, “It is well with my soul.” 

Imagine everything in your life is coming up roses — you’ve married your soulmate, have five beautiful children, and a booming career. Do you think you’d be able to say to God, “It is well with my soul”? Now, imagine all of that is taken away — it’s just you and your grief-stricken spouse, nursing horribly broken hearts. Would it be as easy then to say to God, “It is well with my soul”? But that is the powerful truth behind this classic hymn — a truth that brings even more conviction to the soul-stirring lyrics.

This incredible story of faith belongs to Horatio Gates Spafford (1828-1888). Much like Job, he placed his trust in God during his life’s prosperity, but also during its calamities. A devout Christian who’d immersed himself in Scripture, many years of his life were joyous. He was a prominent Chicago lawyer whose business was thriving. Horatio owned several properties throughout the city. He and his beloved wife had four beautiful daughters and one son. Life was more than good — it was blessed.

But faith, no matter how great, does not spare us from adversity.

Just as Horatio hit the pinnacle of his profession and financial success, things began to change, starting with the tragic loss of his son. Not long thereafter, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed nearly every real estate investment Horatio owned.

A few years later, Horatio decided to treat his wife and daughters to an escape from the turmoil. He sent them on a boat trip to Europe with plans to join them shortly after wrapping up business in Chicago. Just a few days later, he received a dreadful telegram from his wife, “Saved alone…” It bore the excruciating news that the family’s ship had wrecked and all four of his daughters had perished. On his way to meet his heartbroken wife, passing over the same sea that had just claimed the lives of his remaining children, it was then that he put his pen to paper and the timeless hymn was born.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows, like a sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

We all can receive strength from such wisdom and be grateful for the past, present, and future. Throughout my years, I have experienced both seasons of heartache and celebration with UCDS. We have looked in the face of bankruptcy during economic down turns, but also have been blessed with record profit years. We endured challenges over these past two years and have become stronger because of it. In all this, I can testify it is well with my soul, and we are looking forward to another exciting year together.

Thank you from a grateful business owner.

Ian Nimmo