Due to sin’s advent in the world long ago, we are guaranteed to encounter various storms throughout our lives. What does one do when a storm blows through? To help illustrate this to you from one who has experienced not only emotional and mental storms, as well as many physically threatening storms in his lifetime, I’d like to share the story behind my song, We Will Rise, from the recording Days of Awe. I received this particular song on May 23, 2013…and it was born under very difficult circumstances to say the least.

I have lived in Oklahoma my entire life. Oklahoma lies smack dab in the middle of what is called Tornado Alley, meaning we experience many tornadic storms each and every year. Through my lifetime, I have seen many tornadoes. This song came as a result of one such devastating twister that struck Moore, Oklahoma on Monday, May 20, 2013. With winds up to an estimated 210 miles per hour, this was one of the most powerful tornadoes on record…an EF 5.

Once the funnel cloud hit the ground, it lasted for 37 horrible minutes and traveled 17 miles…but the worst part? It left 24 people dead and over 200 people injured. Needless to say, our entire state was grief-stricken.

After a couple of days of the sheer devastation sinking in, our governor - Mary Fallin - called for a memorial service to be held on May 26, 2013. It was shortly before the public announcement that Governor Fallin called me and asked if I would lead worship for the service and if I would be willing to minister to the survivors and to the entire state. Of course I agreed to be a part.

As is my custom, I immediately began asking Father what He would have me share by way of songs. Governor Fallin made it easy in a way when she said this to me. “Dennis, I need you to minister to the grieving hearts of our people…and I want you to not be afraid to use the name of Jesus.”

The worship songs I chose were intimate and directed toward Jesus and toward Father God. But my favorite part of song selection came when He gave me a song of deliverance for the people of Oklahoma called We Will Rise

Verse one is basically a declaration of our need…an honest confession of our grief…a basic permission to just let the tears of sorrow flow yet presenting a vision that we would get through this with God’s help…

When the storms of life blow through 

They can knock us to our knees

Leaving life in shambles

Leaving pain and much debris

Time for grieving losses

Time for wiping tears from eyes

Time for getting up from where we fell

And time to rise

Verse two is a call to the people of Oklahoma to remember that even though we feel sorrow and grief and devastation, we always have a choice as to how we will respond…a call to choose to receive God’s grace and mercy and to walk in His truth…

Though we may be wounded 

We are still people of choice

Choosing to give thanks for life 

And choosing to rejoice!

Though our faith be tested 

We have come to realize

By God's grace and by His mercy we will rise!

The chorus is my favorite part because I simply love Oklahoma and its people. By and large, most profess faith in Jesus to some degree so I felt Father wanted me to remind the people that together we would stand and get through this by fixing our eyes on the truth.

We will rise! We will rise!

Sure as sun in Oklahoma skies!

We will rise though the road be rough and long! 

We will rise, live or die,

Shoulder to shoulder, side by side! 

We will rise! We will rise! 
Yes, we will rise! rise!

The bridge of the song is probably my favorite part because I wanted to express the magnitude of God’s massive reach and comfort and hope by naming well-known landmarks everyone in our state would recognize.

From the Cookson Hills to the Kiamichi Mountains

All the way across to the mighty Wichitas, 

Up into the panhandle to the Black Mesa 

Oklahoma people are Oklahoma strong! 

From the Boiling Springs and the Alabaster Caverns, 

From the northern plains to refreshing Turner Falls

Oklahoma people bearing Oklahoma burdens! 

Oklahoma people are Oklahoma strong!

It was during the singing of the chorus to end the song that everyone was standing linked shoulder to shoulder swaying and singing the song in faith and resolute steadfastness that we would get through the fire and through the storm together by God’s grace.

We will rise! We will rise!

Sure as sun in Oklahoma skies!

We will rise though the road be rough and long! 

We will rise, live or die,

Shoulder to shoulder, side by side!

We will rise! We will rise! 
Yes, we will rise! rise!

God’s Word says this:

For You have been a defense for the helpless,

A defense for the needy in his distress,

A refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat;

For the breath of the ruthless

Is like a rain storm against a wall.

Isaiah 25:4 NASB

After the song was over and while the tears were flowing, I asked all those who had lost loved ones to the storm to stand so I could sing over them. Many many stood and were immediately surrounded by praying people while I sang the song It’s Gonna Be Alright over them. God was very present in an obvious and healing way. I was so very grateful to have been able to be even a small part of the healing process of God for our wonderful people of Oklahoma.

Whether or not you are from Oklahoma or live nowhere near Tornado Alley, we all go through storms of life. Storms are inevitable. It is good to seek shelter from and through such storms. We must simply choose to remember that we never go through a storm alone…and we must choose to see each and every storm from God’s point of view. It is good to see each and every storm from His point of view…and we do that by drawing near to Him during the storms of life and by asking Him to let us see what He sees. Therein lies wisdom. Therein lies hope.

Dennis Jernigan

To listen to the teaching and song, go to http://podcast.dennisjernigan.com/e/we-will-rise/