#796 - "I Have This Hope" by Tenth Avenue North
Singer Mike Donehey unveils a story near to the band's heart that sparked this anthem of hope and surrender.

Posted: February 14, 2017 | By: KevinDavis_NRT
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Tenth Avenue North's albums have been highly anticipated since their first release Over and Underneath, which included the Dove Award winning song "By Your Side" and the hit "Love Is Here" and led to them winning New Artist of the Year. They followed that up with a string of hits including "You Are More," "Strong Enough to Save," "Losing" and "No Man is An Island." They have definitely been a leader in terms of recognition in the music industry, but the band is completely aware that that is not necessarily God's definition of what it means to lead, as described in "What You Want."

Followers is the fifth full-length album by Tenth Avenue North and is based on the concept that in God's Kingdom, servant leadership is best displayed by following the example of Jesus. Our Savior displayed leadership by washing His disciples' feet and asks each of us as Christians to follow Him. Followers is a great collection of confessional and authentic expressions of faith. The success of the band has allowed them to creatively express themselves more with each release, and for me that has really paid off with yet another "best" album. Once again the songs are poignant and powerful, and in recording the new tunes, the band brings a more seasoned level of musicianship, intensity and intentionality. I had the chance to speak with Mike Donehey in person at Winter Jam in Reading, Pennsylvania about "I Have This Hope."

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

There are times when you are trying to write songs for an album, and this is not one of those songs. This was a song where we had a co-write scheduled for me, Jeff, and our friend Jason Ingram. A couple of days before the song writing session, Jeff had learned that his sister-in-law Ferris had stage four cancer. It's a rare form of cancer from leftover fetal tissue. They were shocked. She was 32 years old with three kids. She's super healthy, and the news was shocking. They were told she might need to fly to England for experimental treatment to have a chance of survival. She elected to start a year of really intense chemotherapy. She was looking at that situation, and we decided to write this song for Ferris and Jeff's brother Rob for while they were going through this. We started asking ourselves where God promises that He is with us.

Sometimes in our culture, we want to promise people that God is going to do the miraculous. The thing is, I want a faith that does do that. I want a faith that believes God is always going to work a miracle, and that He's going to heal. I also want a faith that keeps believing God is good even when I'm waiting on the miracle. We were drawn to Isaiah 43, where it says "fear not," the most repeated command in the Bible, and "I have redeemed you, I have called you by name." Then He says, "When you pass through the waters they will not overwhelm you. When you pass through the fire, it will not consume you. I will be with you in the midst." I have pointed out that I don't like that verse. We want to go on top of the waters and around the fires. "When you go through them, I will be with you" is what God tells us. Emmanuel means God with us. We believed that God was going to heal her, but we wanted to write her a song telling her that God is with her.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

Isaiah 43:1-2 (NLT): "But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the One who formed you says, "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you."

Luke 9:23 (VOICE): "If any of you want to walk My path, you're going to have to deny yourself. You'll have to take up your cross every day and follow Me."

Matthew 11:28 (NIV): "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." 

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV): "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV): "For we walk by faith, not by sight."

What is the takeaway message?

We wrote this song. Ferris started chemotherapy two weeks later. We sent them the demo of this song. About a month after chemotherapy, she wrote us and let us know how line for line of this song, God had spoken to her to help her through the chemo process. The crazy part of the story is three months later, the label heard the song and they wanted us to record it, and we went into the studio to record this song. Ferris and Rob were nearby at the hospital and asked if they could visit us in the studio. They arrived and told us how much the song meant to them. Her phone rings, and it is Vanderbilt hospital calling to tell her that after only three months of chemo she's officially in remission--the day we recorded the song.

What has happened to you that you need to forgive God for? Cancer or health issue? Divorce? Finances? What has God let happened to you where you have said "God, how could you let this bad thing happen to a good person?" 

I felt like God was telling me, "why do you call Good Friday, good?" It was the worst Friday until Sunday. We call it good because we knew God was going to work something good out of something bad. This a beautiful song to sing over people and say I don't know what you are going through, but God is with you now, and He is with you until the end. You're going to get Him no matter what happens. 

We have a living hope. No matter what happens to us, hope is a Person named Jesus. When He is our hope, Jesus will never be taken away. One of my favorite lines of the bridge is "You calm the storm when I hear You call my name." Jesus is always calling, though we don't always hear Him. Our hope is that we get to be with Jesus. When you think about faith, hope and joy, these are things you have to surrender to. We all have an idea of how life is supposed to go. We get mad at God when He disagrees with us and He lets things happen to us. We have to surrender the way we think things should go. When we do that, then joy, peace and hope flood in.

As I walk this great unknown
Questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain?
Did I cry these tears in vain?

I don't want to live in fear
I want to trust that You are near
Trust Your grace can be seen
In both triumph and tragedy

I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You're with me and You won't let go

But sometimes my faith feels thin
Like the night will never end
Will You catch every tear
Or will You just leave me here?

But I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You're with me and You won't let go

But I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You're with me and You won't let go

So, whatever happens I will not be afraid
Cause You are closer than this breath that I take
You calm the storm when I hear You call my name
I still believe that one day I'll see Your face

And I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You're with me
I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You're with me and You won't let go

In the flood or the fire
You're with me and You won't let go
In the flood or the fire
You're with me and You won't let go

I really enjoyed reading David Platt's best-selling books Radical and Follow Me. Quoting Platt: "What did Jesus really mean when he said, 'follow Me?' Scores of men, women and children have been told that becoming a follower of Jesus simply involves believing certain truths or saying certain words. We want to be disciples as long as doing so does not intrude on our lifestyles, our preferences, our comforts, and even our religion. The call to follow Jesus is not simply an invitation to pray a prayer; it is a summons to lose your life and to find new life in Him."

No matter your situation, Tenth Avenue North has songs that can really bring healing and reflect the cry of your heart, as in their songs "Hold My Heart," "Worn" and now "I Have This Hope." The band consistently makes songs that remind us to get to that place where we are in humble submission to God, not playing it safe but taking a chance and asking God to be real in our lives. 

Joy isn't just a happy emotion. It is also a deep peace and understanding, knowing that we are loved without a shadow of a doubt. We should not be ashamed to sing of our dependence on God and to show Him reverence. What are those things in your life that are beyond you that you can turn over to God? Allow Him and His supernatural ability to take you to places that you can't handle on your own.

You'll never see true beauty if you don't fully submit to God. What an inspirational message. Jesus commands each of us to trust Him completely. Trusting Jesus assures us that we don't have to be afraid. Even when you don't feel it, you can express these words and this beautiful melody, praying these words: "So whatever happens I will not be afraid, 'cause You are closer than this breath that I take. You calm the storm when I hear You call my name, I still believe that one day I'll see Your face." Amen to that!

Watch the music 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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