Editor's Note: In conjunction with the release of his latest collection, The Acoustic Sessions, singer-songwriter Jason Gray has written reflections on the personal meaning each song has had to him. He graciously shared his thoughts on "I Will Rise Again" below.
Without realizing it at the time of recording, I see now that the four songs on my Acoustic Sessions EP are meditations on the value of pain and the deep joy that it can unlock, if we let it. Let's begin at the beginning.
"In most solemn truth I tell you that unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains what it was--a single grain; but that if it dies, it yields a rich harvest."
— John 12:24 Weymouth New Translation
"If we are to speak of miracles, the most miraculous thing of all is that God uses the very thing that would normally destroy you--the tragic, the sorrowful, the painful, the unjust--to transform and enlighten you. Now you are indestructible and there are no absolute dead ends..." --Richard Rohr
The storms of life come for all of us. In fact, I'm sure that you've come through many storms already, and having survived them, maybe you've begun to recognize a pattern: the person you are before the storm is not the same person who comes out on the other side.
The storms of life have the power to transform us.
In John 12:24 (and then later throughout his life), Jesus makes the pattern of renewal very clear: death and then resurrection. And not just death as in the moment your heart stops beating, but death in whatever form it takes: whether it's the death of a relationship, dream, career, belief, etc. Many deaths will come to us before the final one, but we put our hope in a resurrected and resurrecting savior who specializes in making beauty from ashes.
Death and resurrection. Death and resurrection. This is how we are made new.
To quote Richard Rohr again:
"The only things strong enough to break open our heart are things like pain, mistakes, unjust suffering, tragedy, failure, and the general absurdity of life. I wish it were not so, but it clearly is. Fortunately, life will lead us to the edge of our own resources through such events. We must be led to an experience or situation that we cannot fix or control or understand. That's where faith begins."
It seems that it's only when our former ways of understanding, coping with, and controlling our own lives break down--through loss, crisis, failure, upheaval, or pain--that we are open enough to receive new life.
If we experience this enough times and recognize the pattern, we begin to be less afraid of it and may learn to embrace it. On our best days, we may even be able to look at the storm clouds gathering in the distance and say, "Bring it. Let the storm come because I like what it made of me last time."
For all of the storms I've known, I don't know that I would go back and change much, if anything, at all. I truly am grateful for what they've made of me, for what I know now that I didn't before, and for how God has used them to make me more and more of who I most want to be.
"And once the storm is over you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about." --Haruki Murakami
Jason Gray is a singer-songwriter who is part of the Centricity Music roster.
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