Sing the Songs of Christmas: All Is Well

Editor’s Note: The Christmas season is now in full swing, and to celebrate the release of Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s Advent devotional The First Songs of Christmas, here on blog we thought we’d share a few of our favorite Christmas songs. Also, check out the new Christmas playlist created by our team, available on Spotify or YouTube. Several of our blogger favorites are included! —Laura Elliott

In the stack of Christmas cards you’ll send and receive this season, perhaps a few of them will have these four words scrolled across the bottom: “Hope all is well!” 

It’s a sentence we often include as a way to be polite. Sometimes, as we write the words, we feel them sincerely; sometimes we add them without much thought at all. But when we’re the ones receiving the sentiment, it can be a relief when it’s only a statement on paper and not a question in-person, especially when we’re not sure how we would respond. 

Is all well for you?

  • Yes, all is well . . . except that I’m feeling overwhelmed / tired / lonely / lost.
  • Yes, all is well . . . as long as we’re not discussing my new diagnosis / long-distance relationship / disappointment I can’t seem to shake.
  • Yes, all is well . . . unless you’re referring to my family member’s military assignment / lost job / mental illness / memorial service. 

All Is Well? 

The first time I heard the song “All Is Well,” everything was. I was in middle school, and when the choir at my church sang the song, my dad and I were determined to track it down. My mom and I found it on an older Michael W. Smith album, and I wrapped the plastic CD case and gave it to him for Christmas.

In the years that followed, it was one of the albums we kept on shuffle when the holiday season started, and the song never came on without one of us playing it again. We put it on repeat during Christmases when all seemed wrong, when we stumbled into the season more than a little weary, wondering how it was possible to sing the words:

“All is well, all is well
Angels and men rejoice
For tonight, darkness fell
Into the dawn of love's light” 

When the holiday season comes with suffering—when illness continues, when we face betrayal, when a beloved child never comes home—can we still sing “all is well”? 

News for a King

I recently stumbled across those three words, “all is well,” as I was reading through the Old Testament. If you’re familiar with the life of David, you may remember his complex relationship with his son Absalom. Towards the end of 2 Samuel, Absalom rebels and leads a revolt against his father, forcing him into exile. 

But Absalom’s coup fails. In 2 Samuel 18, it becomes clear that King David will be able to leave exile and return to his throne. Who is going to be the one to inform him? Two messengers: One is Ahimaaz, David’s young courier, who is eager to get the news to his king. At first, he is dissuaded from going, and an unnamed “Cushite” is sent ahead of him. Scholars give different reasons why Ahimaaz was initially prevented from being the one to give him the information. Regardless, when he is finally given the go ahead, he takes off running and beats the Cushite to the king.

David sees Ahimaaz running; he already suspects what’s coming. He is an experienced military leader, who has seen countless battles over the years. This isn’t a defeated army that is returning, retreating in mass: it is one man, running as fast as he can with an enormous update.

“If he’s alone, he bears good news,” the king says. “This is a good man; he comes with good news” (2 Sam. 18:28).

Ahimaaz arrives, out of breath. He yells to David, greeting him with a single word, shalom. In most English translations, he says three words: “All is well.” Then he pays “homage to the king with his face to the ground.” 

It’s jarring to see those words there: “All is well.” The greeting makes us, as modern readers, cringe a little because we know what’s coming: the king may have won this war, but it was at the cost of his beloved son.

Ahimaaz continues with his message in 18:28, “Blessed be the LORD your God! He delivered up the men who rebelled against my lord the king.” David’s sovereign Lord has executed justice. This victory is worthy of celebration—and it might be, if David was only an unfeeling ruler and not a father as well. 

David asks Ahimaaz, “Is the young man Absalom all right?” (18:29). Ahimaaz mentions a “big disturbance” but claims he doesn’t know anything else, so David moves him aside. The next messenger, the Cushite, shows up, and their conversation starts in a similar way, with confirmation of the good news of God’s deliverance. 

“May my lord the king hear the good news,” the man says. “The LORD has vindicated you today by freeing you from all who rise against you!” (28:31). But the nation’s well being isn’t all that David cares about. He asks whether his son Absalom is all right.

The Cushite’s answer is delicate, indirect, and heartbreaking: “I wish that the enemies of my lord the king, along with all who rise up against you with evil intent, would become like that young man” (19:32).

The king crumbles.

In 2 Samuel 18:33, David “went up to the chamber above the city gate and wept. As he walked, he cried, ‘My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!”

A Return and a Resurrection 

When you spend time studying the life of David, you see it all: disappointment, death, success, sin, suffering, grief, grace, and the generosity of God. All of those experiences seem to come to a head on this dark night, as David faces unfathomable pain. 

In the midst of this trial, David then prepares to return to Jerusalem to resume his reign. Some have compared David’s return to Jerusalem with Jesus’ ascension after His resurrection—after facing rejection and suffering and death, Jesus takes His rightful place on the throne at the right hand of the Father.

Even in loss, God reigns. He is victorious.

Because He reigns, the pain we experience is not without purpose.
Because He reigns, there’s light for the darkest nights.
Because He reigns, all is well—one day, we’ll see the world made right. 

All Is Well 

This Christmas, if bad news and good news have come to you as paired messengers, filling this season with pain, may God comfort you with the perspective of heaven and fill you with the hope of Christ that enables you to sing “Alleluia, All is wel!l” with all your heart.

“O let my trembling soul be still,
And wait thy wise, thy holy will!
I cannot, Lord, thy purpose see,
Yet all is well since ruled by Thee.”

—Charles H. Spurgeon 1

 1C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).

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About the Author

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep was working as a hospital teacher when God called her to join Revive Our Hearts as a staff writer. She serves remotely from Texas, where God sustains her through saltwater beaches, Mexican food, and Scripture. Her website, www.apatientprocess.com, is a record of the Lord’s faithfulness in chronic illness, for even in suffering, He is good.

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