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#1008 - "Smile" by Sidewalk Prophets
NRT's Lead Contributor, Kevin Davis, speaks with lead singer Dave Frey about the band's latest single.

Posted: February 25, 2020 | By: KevinDavis_NRT
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I credit the biblical messages in Christian music that crossed over to mainstream for leading me to Christ (Jars of Clay's debut album, in particular). For this, I'm eternally grateful. I was a prodigal son who thought my works, and, basically, being a good person, would eventually lead me to heaven. I had to learn to have faith "like a child" and accept Jesus as my personal savior, as expressed by Him: "I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn't receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it" (Mark 10:15).

We all want our inheritance. And, we want to spend it on prodigal living. That was my story. Finding new life in Jesus has shown me that my heart belongs with God. He's running toward me. That was a theme on Sidewalk Prophets' last album, Something Different. That offering includes standout songs, "Prodigal," "Everything in Awe," and "Impossible." Something Different follows the success of Live Like That, which features the hit title track, "Help Me Find It," and "Keep Making Me." 

I had the chance to speak with my friend and brother in Christ, lead singer Dave Frey, about the band's newest single "Smile." This song is featured on their upcoming album, The Things That Got Us Here (just to note: this song is my 12th "Behind the Song" discussion with Dave).

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

Our song, "Smile," is an anthem of joy. And, a reminder to hold on to God's promises through thick and thin. We wrote this song about halfway through making our new album. We realized there were a lot of introspective songs. And, we wanted a song that overarchingly had fun, but also addressed the issues we write about in the other songs. This song kickstarts the rest of the album. 

Personally, I enjoy introspective songs, and I also enjoy upbeat songs. There's this concept about our pursuit of happiness from the Declaration of Independence. We wanted to write a song that expresses happiness when you're in the middle of a struggle. The linchpin of the song is "there's always a reason to always choose joy." That comes from James 1:2 and Psalm 30:5. Joy can be found as a silver lining in the midst of all these things we go through.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

James 1:2-4 (NIV): "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."

Psalm 30:5 (VOICE): "His wrath, you see, is fleeting, but His grace lasts a lifetime. The deepest pains may linger through the night, but joy greets the soul with the smile of morning."

Psalm 28:7 (NLT): "The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving."

Psalm 16:11 (NKJV): "You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV): "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart."

Romans 8:28 (VOICE): "We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan."

Philippians 1:6 (NIV): "Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV): "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  

Nehemiah 8:10 (NKJV): "Then he said to them, 'Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'"

What is the takeaway message?

Over the past few years, we've been through some pretty awesome experiences, as well as some very terrifying ones. When we start to pay close attention, we begin to see that how we respond to these experiences is actually a choice. In the tough times, we can either wither away in fear and doubt. Or, we can go confidently into each new challenge, knowing that when we hold on to Christ and His promises, there is always a reason to smile. 

All the time, my grandma used to say, "count your blessings." Even when I was a selfish kid, pouting because I didn't get the toy I wanted, my grandma reminded me to remember the blessings in my life. That I was safe and sound and playing and having fun. From childhood up until now, in adulthood, there are always blessings to be thankful for. I've seen it in dark places and bright places. We want people to smile, of course, as a way of showing that the joy of the Lord is their strength. And, we want people to have fun in that joy. There's always an opportunity to choose joy.


Lost your way, lost your cool,
Then you straight up lost your mind
Tried so hard to stay ahead
But you keep falling behind
Life is gonna pull you down
Make it hard to see
But a little change in your point of view
Could be just what you need

There's always a reason
To always choose joy
There's something deeper
That the world can't destroy

When you think you can't
Get up and dance
There's a bigger plan
The storm only lasts for a while

Happiness is wonderful
But it doesn't stick around
Walkin' on sunshine
Then here come the clouds
You can laugh or you can cry
When it all falls apart
But I believe the more you laugh
The more you heal the heart

There's always a reason
To always choose joy
There's something deeper
That the world can't destroy

When you think you can't
Get up and dance
There's a bigger plan
And you've got a reason
To smile
When you think you can't
Just clap your hands
There's a bigger plan
You've got a reason to smile

Closing Thoughts

God wants to hear from you. Get to that place where you are in humble submission to God. Don't play it safe. But, take a chance and ask for God to be real in your life. You'll never see true beauty if you don't fully submit to Him. More than just intellectual assent, God wants to be at the centre of your heart's desires. 

We change our minds quickly. But, our hearts are more devoted. God can do immeasurably more than anything and everything you can ask or even imagine. And, "Smile" is a true celebration of the great biblical truth of "Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us" (Ephesians 3:20). defines "happy" as "characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: a happy mood; a happy frame of mind." Regardless of your circumstances, you need to be free in Christ, as well as  be happy, filled with joy. Similar to Paul and Silas in prison. One of the greatest witnesses that Christians can demonstrate to non-believers, to show them the upside down Kingdom of God, is to live out the words of this song. Have that inner-joy. Something that's supernatural. Something that shows Christian observers walking through valleys that they too can have the hope and joy of God's love.

God doesn't promise to spare you from pain. But, you need to trust Him. Trust Him and wait for Him. Wait for Him to orchestrate the plans for your life. You have nothing to bring to God. Maybe you expect something in return, instead of recognizing that nothing compares to the greatness of knowing Jesus. Faith is when you are empty of yourself, and filled with Him and His Holy Spirit.

"Smile" is one of my favorite songs for 2020. I can't get enough of the biblical truth of the song. And, I love when artists take God's Word from the Bible and turn it into a great and catchy song, filled with truth. I sing this song to God with all of my heart and know that: "There's always a reason, To always choose joy/There's something deeper/That the world can't destroy." Amen to that.

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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