When’s the last time you faced something scary, difficult, or overwhelming?
An hour ago, a day ago, a week ago?
I was meeting with my therapist recently. He and I processed the last few years and what I’ve endured but not really explored. He was super helpful in helping me grieve the losses I’d endured. Over a period of two hours, we talked through the times when I felt flooded and stuck, both too much and not enough.
If you can think back to that time you felt scared or overwhelmed, you know what it means to be desperate for God’s presence. The uncertain future may have driven you to seek God’s intervention. In my desperation, I was reminded of how God shows up in a way which meets our needs.
Consider the words of David in Psalm 16. “Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge… I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety.”
The assurance and peace which that Psalm has brought to countless believers is echoed in the words of @Ryan Ellis' hit song, "Gonna Be Alright."
RELATED CONTENT: Ryan Ellis Professes Peace Through the Storm in “Gonna Be Alright”
“You are the strength when I am weak
The only one who leads my soul to perfect peace
And I will sing my way through the night
The words that bring me back to life
Everything’s gonna be alright”
In an interview he gave around the song’s release, Ellis spoke about how the song was originally written out of a season of deep pain in his family. He ended up re-writing and releasing the song, discovering how the demo version ministered to his collaborators, his wife, and even himself. I believe one reason for that deep impact is how the song speaks to God showing up and speaking words to us that we need in a specific moment in time.
A gentle voice when we’re fragile
A firm response when we’re confused
A grace-filled word when we’ve made a mess
A truth-filled reminder when we’re deceived and opposed to Him
Our always-loving and always-near God
As I wrapped up that session with my therapist, I needed to get some fresh air. I was staying near the ocean. So, I grabbed my headphones and my phone and stepped outside. I put “Gonna Be Alright” on repeat and I walked for 45 minutes.
It was as if God was saying “You’re a mess, but I’m not. You’re worried about the future, but I’m not. You are weak, but I’m not. You don’t know how it’s all going to work out, but it’s gonna be alright.”
The song touches briefly on why everything is going to be alright. But, later in the day, I was catching up on articles and commentary about the death of Tim Keller. Keller pastored a church in Manhattan for 25 years and his prolific writings and popular sermons left a major impact on American Christianity.
A quote of his came to mind as I thought about “Gonna Be Alright,” using the same language as the song while adding some theological context and some real-life examples. This interview took place shortly after Keller was diagnosed with cancer in 2020, as many were worried as they navigated the pandemic and other challenges that year included.
Keller was asked what he’d say to followers of Jesus who are worried about the future.
“If Jesus Christ was actually raised from the dead…then everything’s going to be alright. Whatever you’re worried about right now, whatever you are afraid of, everything is actually going to be ok. Because we’re not just talking about resurrected people—and this is where Christianity is unique—we’re talking about a resurrected world. There are plenty of other religions that talk about a future afterlife which is a non-material world. In other words, you get a consolation for the world we’ve lost. Christianity says it’s not just your bodies being resurrected but the world is actually going to be a material world that’s cleansed from all evil and suffering and sin. If Jesus Christ was raised from the dead then the whole world is going to be resurrected and everything is going to be ok. Everything.” – Timothy Keller
After listening to Keller’s words and the song’s lyrics, let’s return to the scary, difficult thing you thought about in the beginning. I want to offer you an invitation to act as if the words of this song are true.
First, name the thing which you are worried about. Are you carrying burdens today? Identify them by name.
Second, imagine them sitting in your open hands. Set your palms on your thighs. Imagine those things sitting in your hands, weighing them down.
Third, close your eyes and imagine Jesus sliding into the seat next to you. Listen closely as He whispers “Everything’s going to be alright. I’ve got you and I’ve got this. You don’t have to carry that anymore. Stop listening to the lies and listen to my truth. Everything’s going to be alright.”
It’s okay if those words are hard to believe. I listened to this song about 10 times in a row before it settled deeply into my soul. Just as God has caused the sun to rise and set millions of times, God doesn’t tire of saying the same thing over and over to you. If you need more reminders, open up your Bible to Psalm 16 again, or push repeat on this song.
Oh, one more time before you go! Everything is gonna be alright.
Scott Savage is a pastor and a writer with the best last name in the world. who loves helping people experience spiritual growth, emotional health, and relational healing. He leads Cornerstone Church in Prescott, Arizona. Scott is married to Dani and they are the proud parents of three children. He loves helping hurting people forgive others through his Free to Forgive course and you can read more of his writing at scottsavagelive.com.