Sometimes, blessings from God don't come in the perfect packages we expect, as Laura tells NRT's Kevin Davis.
There’s no denying some of the blessings in Laura Story’s life. She wrote the No. 1 worship hit “Indescribable” recorded in 2004 by Chris Tomlin, married a handsome athlete named Martin Elvington the next year, and began working in music and women’s ministry at the 4,000-member Perimeter Church in Atlanta. After signing an artist deal with the INO Records, her 2008 national debut Great God Who Saves, won a Dove Award for Inspirational Album and earned Laura two consecutive nominations for Female Vocalist of the Year—all blessings, indeed.
But amidst that success a brain tumor hospitalized her husband in 2006. The faith Story sang about was put through the unexpected fires of fear and loneliness. Most young newlyweds don’t imagine being kept alive at one point by breathing machines or having to find their way through significant post-operative vision and memory loss. Could grace notes resound from such a life-altering struggle? Laura’s incisive new album, Blessings, suggests they do.
Among the positives, Laura sees the timing of their new international travel opportunities as no coincidence. Singing and teaching in churches across the United States, Western Europe, and South America, she declares, “We have a voice that wasn’t there prior to this suffering. I can hardly begin to tell you of the hundreds of hurting people we’ve prayed with, people going through more than we have. This is a chance to share the Gospel.”
Story’s perspective has also changed, knowing firsthand the journey to surrender gets complicated—that it sometimes involves having to redefine what God’s “blessings” could mean, a spiritual wrestling match she perfectly encapsulates on Blessings’ breathtaking title track and first single. I got the great chance to interview Laura Story about her hit title song, “Blessings.”
Please tell me about the message behind the song "Blessings."
The song shows that we still have more questions than answers. But there’s a decision that I find God is asking us to make. Are we going to judge God based on our circumstances, or are we going to choose to interpret our circumstances based on what we hold to be true about God?
Our circumstances have magnified the blessing of marriage. As high school sweethearts, we faced the strong chance that our long-awaited marriage bond might last just two years. Once you’ve rallied through a life-threatening illness together, the rest of it is like a surprise; every day is a new gift that might not have been there. It’s not as big a deal now if he leaves his socks on the floor.
The words of James 1:2--“Consider it a great joy … whenever you experience various trials”--ring especially true and duly influence the joyful, wisdom-loving tone throughout “Blessings.”
Don’t get the wrong idea. It hasn’t been easy. Everyone wants to be a mature and equipped follower, but would I have signed up had I known what it would take? God has grown us up, deepened our faith, our awareness of our great need for Him as a Savior, daily. We knew it before, but we didn’t see it.
Please share the Bible passages that go with the message of the song.
James 1:2-4: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Romans 5:3-5: And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
What's the takeaway message for listeners regarding the song?
This is a good place to be. Life is filled with things you don’t expect, but the Bible tells us to respond by trusting God and continuing to worship Him. Martin hasn’t received complete healing, and that can be hard when we view God as all-powerful and all-loving. But here we are now saying, “Yes, this is how faith works. God has proven to be faithful.”
We have been truly blessed out of a circumstance that at first didn’t seem like much of a blessing at all. God is love. He tells us so repeatedly in the Bible. Yet sometimes it doesn't feel like He loves us. What if we pray for our loved ones to make it through, but they pass away before we even say goodbye? What if we pray for our children to grow up healthy but instead we watch them suffer a life-threatening illness? What if we pray for that little extra money to make ends meet, but we end up losing our home?
It's devastating when we don't see God's answers to our prayers. "We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near.” What if the very thing that is best for us isn't the same as what we're praying for? All the while, God hears each spoken need. He loves us way too much to give us lesser things. God is watching over always, directing every moment we experience. So if He isn't answering our prayers how we think He should, does that mean He isn't answering? Or could it be something else? Could it possibly be that He's really blessing us?
We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things
Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?
We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel you near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if each promise from Your Word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe
When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win, we know
That pain reminds this hearts,
That this is not, this is not our home…
What if my greatest disappointments,
Or the aching of this life,
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy.
What if trials of this life,
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise?
“What if your blessings come through raindrops?” It’s hard to comprehend, but maybe God really is guiding us in our trials. Maybe they’re working towards something bigger. Maybe God is blessing us through the hard parts in our lives. Of course, we always wonder, can’t God find some better way to show us what He needs to? Can’t He take away the pain and give us happiness? Isn’t that what’s best for us?
But through it all, “the pain reminds this heart that this is not our home.” We know our lives here on earth are only temporary and our real home is heaven. So, it’s possible that the pain has a purpose. “What if the trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?”
Sometimes, we need the suffering so God can shape us into who we need to be. Someday we’ll see the purpose. Until then, remember God promises us His very best. “We doubt Your goodness. We doubt Your love. As if every promise from Your word is not enough.” Trust, for He knows what He’s doing.
This song has some of the best lyrics I’ve ever heard in any song. I'm moved by Laura’s transparency and confessional challenges to believers in this incredible song. I am wrecked by the lyrics, “What if my greatest disappointments, or the aching of this life, Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy?”
Something Laura and I discussed was that as believers we need to remember that this world is not our home. We have a much bigger agenda, and the security of everlasting life as promised by our Savior Jesus. As this song so beautifully depicts, we weren’t made for this world. Amen.
Here’s a video with Laura talking about this amazing song: