From my first listen, I was totally captivated by After All These Years by Brian and Jenn Johnson. They are the founding worship leaders of Bethel Music from Redding, California who have brought worshipers everywhere into God's presence. This album focuses on the central themes of asking God to inhabit our inner being and truly allow the power of the Holy Spirit to sanctify us, along with relying solely on the love of Jesus to mold our hearts and make us more like Him. I'm really engaged by Jenn's emotional vocals and the deep, prayerful lyrics throughout the album. I had the chance to speak with Jenn Johnson about "You're Gonna Be Ok."
Please tell me the personal story behind this song.
A year and half ago, Brian was really going through a tough time, and it unraveled and he ended up having a nervous breakdown. It took him out. He was put on medications and taken to the emergency room at the hospital. It was a really difficult time, and God really helped him to deal with things like forgiveness and some tough meetings with people at that time. It was a beautiful, although terrible, time. Lamentations says, "the 'worst' is never the worst." That was the verse that I hung onto.
In this time, I was driving him home from the hospital. He was recovering, and it was a weighty time of holding up the ministry and our kids. God was so faithful, and I was so tired. I remember driving home, and I started singing "you're gonna be ok." I was singing it to myself, over him and over our kids. The majority of this song came out of that situation. I later went back to it and recorded it on my phone.
When we started writing for this album, although it's not a worship song that people will probably ever sing on a Sunday, I felt like it was such a message and prophetic statement. I felt like God promised that if I wrote this song it would save people, and even people thinking of suicide can be filled with hope, even though we don't know what tomorrow holds. That's how this song came about.
Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?
Lamentations 3:28-30(MSG): "When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face. The "worst" is never the worst."
Lamentations 3:22-24(MSG): "God's loyal love couldn't have run out, His merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left."
Jeremiah 29:13(NIV): "You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart."
Psalm 30:11-12(VOICE): "You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing; You stripped off my dark clothing and covered me with joyful light. You have restored my honor. My heart is ready to explode, erupt in new songs! It's impossible to keep quiet! Eternal One, my God, my Life-Giver, I will thank You forever."
Zephaniah 3:17(VOICE): "The Eternal your God is standing right here among you, and He is the champion who will rescue you. He will joyfully celebrate over you; He will rest in His love for you; He will joyfully sing because of you like a new husband."
Romans 8:11(VOICE): "If the Spirit of the One who resurrected Jesus from the dead lives inside of you, then you can be sure that He who raised Him will cast the light of life into your mortal bodies through the life-giving power of the Spirit residing in you."
What is the takeaway message?
I really asked the Lord to help me to write the statements He wants to say over His people. Like "you're a fighter." My friends Seth Mosely and Jeremy Riddle helped me with the song. I wanted it to be a hope anthem and a declaration almost like the Lord was singing it over us. A lot of the themes of the album, like "Mention of Your Name," came from when my oldest daughter was born and we were told when I was rushed in for an emergency C section that we may lose her. It was really touch and go. I remember lying in a hospital bed, and I was only 19 years old, and I prayed "Jesus, help." I felt peace go through my body and I knew it was going to be ok, even though I hadn't read that passage yet.
A shout or just a whisper of His name changes everything. The authority in the name of Jesus is so beautiful. There's a time to shout and times to speak or say or whisper His name. A lot of these songs are beautiful themes about what God has been speaking and saying to us, "after all these years." We were originally going to use the rings of a tree as our album cover, how trees weather storms and the rings show the faithfulness and longevity of time and God. We want people to take away the faithfulness of God, the nearness of God, through all the seasons of life, that He's there, and all that God has done in us and through us. These are personal songs for us. We love the church and corporate worship songs, and many of these songs are about our personal experiences with God.
Lyrics: I know it's all you've got to just be strong
And it's a fight just to keep it together
I know you think that you are too far gone
But hope is never lost
Hope is never lost
Hold on, don't let go
Hold on, don't let go
Just take one step closer
Put one foot in front of the other
You'll get through this
Just follow the light in the darkness
You're gonna be ok
I know your heart is heavy from those nights
But just remember that you are a fighter
You never know just what tomorrow holds
And you're stronger than you know
You're stronger than you know
And when the night is closing in
Don't give up and don't give in
This won't last, it's not the end
It's not the end
You're gonna be ok
Every song released by Bethel Music completely focuses me as a listener on joining in praise, worship and adoration of Jesus. All of these songs are poignant and powerful with earnest, worshipful lyrics. After All These Years will be one of the top worship albums of the year. It is truly a moving and prayerful worship experience. This album is best described as a worship experience with an ethereal tone. These anointed worship leaders have consistently impressed me with their mature faith and sincere desires to serve Jesus.
Worship is about giving God our best, offering all of ourselves to Him. All we can do is submit to Him and give everything we have to Him. According to God's Word in Jeremiah 29:13, we need to search for God with all of our heart, and we will find Him. In our fast-paced society, how often are we dedicating our whole heart to God? This song totally moves me in my personal worship time. The song is an ethereal ballad in the style of "Come to Me" sung with a stirring passion and filled with prayerful declarations. A Bible verse that references God singing over us that "you're gonna be ok" is Zephaniah 3:17. It moves me immensely to soak in the truth that our God sings over us.
I hear in Jenn's vocals a sincere yearning for God and thankfulness in her heart for God's mercy and grace. I'm completely convicted by the strong lyrics and find immense comfort in this song. We can all make the choice to ask The Holy Spirit to indwell us with His supernatural ability to overcome whatever we are going through. That's what this song is all about. We are aware of many situations involving people taking their own lives after dealing with depression. Jenn's hope is to pass on the life-giving message of Jesus Christ. Allow The Holy Spirit to "cast the light of life into your mortal bodies." If you are struggling with depression, please know with certainty these life-giving words: "But hope is never lost, hope is never lost, hold on, don't let go." Amen to that!
Watch the lyric video below.
NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.
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