Worshipping Through Grief: An Interview with Kari Jobe
By Hannah Goodwyn
Losing a child is said to be the worst loss you can experience.
Coming back from that kind of grief can’t be an easy journey. Unfortunately, it’s one Kari Jobe has had to walk.
Jobe’s first pregnancy happened to be at the same time her sister, Kris, was carrying her own bundle of joy. But just before Christmas, back in 2015, Kris lost her baby.
The heartbreaking loss and God’s faithfulness through it all inspired the Christian music artist’s latest album, The Garden. Recently, Jobe shared about the difficult time and the music it created with CBN.com. Here are excerpts from that interview:
The Garden comes from a moment you had with God at home after tragedy struck your family. Can you share that story and how it led to this new record?
The Garden captures the raw emotion of truth. Truth of pain and sorrow that feels like it could swallow you up and suffocate you. There are moments we experience in life that knock the wind out of us and cause us to question exactly what God is up to.
God used a garden in my backyard to help me remember that He is always at work to turn EXTREMELY difficult situations into beauty. Everything we do in this life, on this side of Heaven, is kingdom oriented. There will always be pruning, planting, watering, and growth. Different seasons have different experiences, but God is ALWAYS up to something beautiful. Questions rise up at times that cause us to cry out to the Lord for answers.
In all the searching and surrendering, there is life and the very presence of almighty God that comes rushing in to heal. I pray that as you listen to The Garden, the song and the whole album, you’ll feel the incredible peace of God and hear His voice speaking words of truth, life, and healing to deep places of your soul. You are going to be OK… hold on, life is growing around you, but it might take your spiritual eyes to see it.
It’s difficult sometimes to walk under the weight of unanswered prayers. How did you?
I think a few things help. I have had a relationship with God for a long time and I’ve experienced a lot of times that prayers weren’t answered in the way I was asking. But I’ve seen God be faithful and in time I have seen His faithfulness work out to be very beautiful.
When there are unanswered prayers, I just trust that God is up to something else. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it. Proverbs 3:5-6 comes to my mind a lot as well. That it’s good to trust God and not get offended or hurt at Him that something didn’t go the way I wanted—that’s my own understanding—but God sees a bigger picture.
The album has a thematic thread through it. What is that and why was it an important message to share through this new project?
“The Garden”, along with a lot of the other songs, were written in a season of navigating grief, loss, heartache, brokenness…yet celebration, life and joy all at the same time. I had life growing inside of me with being pregnant, but my sister lost her baby girl close to the end of her pregnancy. It was a difficult season, but I just started writing out of it.
These songs helped me lay out my heart, and admit that in the midst of questions and disappointment, I was going to keep singing and worshipping because I know that it brings breakthrough in my life. As I wrote and sang the songs over myself, I was thinking of others who are in similar places or have been here before. Maybe their hearts are still in need of healing and joy. I pray these songs help give lyric to their heart’s cries.
I also wrote a lot with church in mind. I love leading worship and having songs to declare our praise. “Fall Afresh” is a song of invitation for the presence of God to come afresh. “O the Power” is a song about the Garden of Gethsemane and the power of the Blood and the Cross in our lives. “Heal Our Land” is a prayer for God to save and heal our land, taken from scripture (2 Chronicles 7:1-22).
“He’s working things out for their good and will give them the strength and grace to keep moving forward. I pray that people will use these songs as prayers of hope and fresh power of God’s spirit to move in their lives.“
How has becoming a parent/mother influenced how you approach worshipping God yourself and leading others in worship?
I love being a mummy. I love spending time with my son. And even though he can only smile and throw food on me for now, I love to just be with Him. I think it has helped me slow down more while I lead and just wait in God’s presence and just enjoy the environment of His spirit. I know God is the same way. He loves to just spend time with us. So I’ve started cultivating more time for just “being”…as I worship alone by myself and in the corporate setting.
“I Will Sing” is tied to this change in your life. Would you share a little bit about the inspiration behind that song?
I wrote this song two weeks after having a funeral for my niece who went to be with Jesus before we ever got to meet her. It was such a sensitive and raw time for my family. I was navigating still being pregnant myself, but grieving for my sister’s loss and the disappointment of God not healing her or answering the prayers we had prayed during that time.
The lyrics reveal the raw and broken place I was in: “I need to see You here. I need to know you’re in control. Though my heart is torn wide open, I will trust, I will remember”. It was a declaration that even in the midst of every emotion and feeling, I was choosing to worship and praise because it brings breakthrough.
We won’t always understand everything God is up to, but even David cried out in scripture, “Yet will I praise You”, because one moment in the presence of God is better than 1,000 moments outside of it. He is faithful and in due time, we always will see His faithfulness play out in another way. He always turns a terrible situation into something good, because HE is good. It’s His nature and so it’s how He works.
In a recent interview, you said that we’ve “been put on Earth to fulfil God’s heart for mankind”, to bring salvation and hope. How is The Garden part of fulfilling that call?
I pray that in everything I do that it ministers and helps people. I can’t imagine all that we face and experience in this life without having a relationship with Jesus. He has met me in the most difficult and sorrowful times of my life and helped me get through it.
If anything, I pray that these songs help people that need it, to come out of depression and sorrow, and look around to see that God is with them. He’s working things out for their good and will give them the strength and grace to keep moving forward. I pray that people will use these songs as prayers of hope and fresh power of God’s spirit to move in their lives.
You’ve also said that you wrote this album out of experiencing God’s “closeness, goodness, and mercy.” What would you say to believers/non-believers who aren’t or have never felt that?
I would say, open your heart to God and give your life over to Him. He gives mercy, life, forgiveness, and so much more. I would dare to say that if you’ve never felt this from God, that God isn’t the saviour of your life. His word says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to You” (James 4:8).
Draw near and ask Him to be your Saviour. He is extremely faithful and will fill your life with beautiful mercy and goodness. It’s worth a try!