Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Praise You In This Storm: The story behind the song

This is the story behind the song "Praise You in the Storm" by Casting Crowns (the song from the last blog post). I must admit I've never heard such a song before. What an incredible focus upon God in the midst of deep and intense suffering. The story was found here:

He Gives, and Takes Away
by Mark Hall, posted 08/14/06

You're probably familiar with the Casting Crowns hit single "Praise You in This Storm." In this excerpt from his new book Lifestories, frontman Mark Hall tells the story behind the song.

Great songs don't just come out of nowhere, and there's quite a story behind the Casting Crowns hit, "Praise You in This Storm." In a new book called Lifestories (available August 29), Mark Hall, the band's frontman and chief songwriter, tells the stories behind the songs—including this one about a little girl dying of cancer who never gave up her trust in Jesus . . . and her mother who literally stood on the promises of God through the whole ordeal. The following story has been adapted and condensed from the book.

Laurie Edwards watched her little girl gasping for air and wanted to breathe for her. She wanted the Maker of breaths to swoop in and fill her child's lungs and dissolve every tumor with His mere glance. She wanted another miracle.

It was the early morning of Saturday, October 30, 2004. Ten-year-old Erin Browning lay in a hospice bed in her home, in such pain and shortness of breath that, in fear and exasperation, she could manage only one request of her mother.

"Just read the Scriptures!" she said.

So Laurie began reading the Scriptures. She included Erin's favorite passage, Proverbs 3:5-6. From 1 a.m. until 5 a.m., loved ones took turns reading aloud the Word of God over a child in the last, cruelest stages of cancer's grip. Little Erin had battled for more than three years.
And now the end was near. Laurie tried to refuse to believe it, but her trust in the Lord remained steadfast. She was frightened and faithful all at once. She prayed for an eleventh-hour miracle. And she kept reading the Scriptures, as Erin had asked.

At one point, Laurie placed her Bible on the floor and stood on it, literally standing on the Word of God as she read over her child. Finally, after the long night of reading Scripture followed by another long night of hopeful prayer, Laurie consented for a hospice nurse to administer an IV with medicine that essentially placed Erin in a painless coma on Sunday afternoon. There would be no more gasping for breath.

I met Erin Browning on Valentine's Day, 2004 at Westover Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. Erin loved Casting Crowns, and, after six years of dance lessons, had choreographed a dance to our song "Here I Go Again." When Laurie initially contacted us, we made arrangements to meet their family before that concert. Three months later, Erin danced for the last time as her mother and two sisters joined her for a performance of "Here I Go Again" at The Carolina Theatre.

I was gripped by the imagery of Laurie's standing on her Bible and quoting Scripture over her sick little girl. After all the e-mail updates and prayers, that moment melted my heart and sparked the lyrics to this song.
I kept up with Erin's condition through Laurie's e-mails detailing the family's wrenching ordeal. Every e-mail described a change in Erin's condition. One e-mail would offer hope: "There is a new treatment, so please be praying." So we'd pray, and then the next e-mail would report, "It's not working."

Sometimes Laurie had questions: "What's going on? I feel like I'm all alone in this." But her love of Jesus remained fervent even though she questioned what was going on and didn't really understand the reasons. It was raw, rare faith, and it was inspiring.

On June 21, 2004, I e-mailed Laurie to tell her that I was writing a song for Erin entitled "Praise You in This Storm." Upon the news, Erin screamed so loud that it hurt Laurie's ears. Erin never got to hear the song, but Laurie heard it for the first time when her mother bought the CD on the day it was released and took it to the school where Laurie works. The two women sat in the car, listened to the song, and "cried and cried and cried."

"Erin would be so happy to know that other people were being touched by something written for her, because she was never about herself. She was about other people," Laurie said. "Other kids at school would say 'I want to be like Erin.' And she would say, 'No, you don't. You want to be like Jesus.'"
I was impressed with Laurie's faith, but Laurie will tell you how much she was impressed with Erin's faith. Erin was six years old when she prayed to receive Christ. She was diagnosed with cancer when she was seven, and by the time she was eight she was visiting area churches to give her testimony.
Four months after Erin was first diagnosed, a second bone scan revealed that the cancer was gone. Doctors called the results remarkable. Laurie and Erin called it a miracle. Emboldened by the Lord's clear hand in her life, she began regularly sharing her faith and giving her testimony.

"She had a desire to reach people to let them know there is no hope or joy without God. And even though she had reason in her life not to be happy, she was joyful because she had Jesus in her heart," Laurie said. "She wasn't afraid. She let the Lord speak through her, and when she would get up and speak it was like I wasn't listening to my own daughter. He would put words in her mouth, and it was just awesome."

But the cancer eventually returned, and this time, it didn't go away. The tumors grew so large that they displaced organs and created a visible bulge in Erin's chest. They pressed down on her spleen, pushed her heart to the right, and deviated her trachea, straining her breathing.

Near the end, Laurie's e-mail updates were desperate. Her last one before Erin's death was a simple request in all caps: "PLEASE PRAY FOR ERIN!" It was the night in which Laurie stood on her Bible during the four hours of Scripture reading. The weekend crept into Saturday, when at 1:15 a.m. the hospice nurse told Laurie that Erin's vital signs and statistics suggested she had only approximately 20 minutes to live.

Fifty-one hours later, [she] finally gave up her fight. Erin Browning went home at 4:24 a.m. on November 1, 2004.

Laurie still doesn't fully understand what happened next. She remembers only a tremendous peace and describes it as being under the shower of the Holy Spirit. She held Erin's body for 90 minutes while her daughter played in heaven.

"It was not like how I expected her last minutes to be. I thought I'd be hysterical, but I wasn't," Laurie said. "But she was where she always wanted to be. She told me when she was six years old that she couldn't wait to get to heaven. She said she had felt an emptiness in her heart, but when she asked Jesus into her heart she never felt it again because Jesus had filled her and would never leave her. For the 10 years she was on this earth, God used her in a remarkable, powerful way.

"I've learned that He can use an average, ordinary family to do extraordinary things and that He continues to use us despite ourselves," Laurie said. "How He has done that is beyond me. But He has a plan and purpose. A lot of times I may not like His plan, but I accept it. I'm just honored that He chose to use Erin and this family as He has."
Through it all, I was captured not just by Laurie's faith but also by her worship. She had the worship of Job:

The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.Job 1:21

I have a son and two daughters, and I was amazed at how Laurie faced a parent's greatest fear. It doesn't mean that she wasn't angry. It doesn't mean that she wasn't sad or doubtful, but at the base of it she was leaning on God even if she was angry, sad, or doubtful. I was reminded once again that just because we cannot see God's purpose does not mean He doesn't have one. I was reminded that God is faithful, regardless of the circumstances. I was reminded that God is sovereign, and we're not. Finally, I was reminded that we cannot control how long our lifesongs last. We only can control how loud we sing them. Little Erin lived out loud for Jesus.

10 comments:

mwh said...

Wow!

Angela said...

This has become my heart's cry. This song has brought me to tears, sobbing, raising my hands in worship, praise and crumbling at my Lord's feet. My family and I have been in the fiercest storm we have ever been, starting September 11th/08 when my husband was wrongfully dismissed from his place of employment. No medical benefits, a town that has been enveloped with plants closing,over 3000 people getting laid off in just a few short months, and continues. My youngest son losing his first job, my mother told she had two months to live on November 29th/08 and my oldest son is now going for an MRI next week to see if he has a brain tumor or anerusym..."I thought by now You would have come by now and wiped away our tears"....but I will praise You in this Storm....My eyes are on Christ,,,where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth..amen amen amen
Thank you so much. My girlfriend told me about a 'story' behind the song. She sent me the wrong link, so I googled numerous times to find 'it', and God, in His faithfulness, led me here..
Blessings dear one. I needed this tonight. He KNEW..Thank You sweet Jesus for Your faithfulness.
Angela

defibus said...

Shortly after being diagnosed with stage 4 nasopharyngeal carcinoma someone introduced me to this song. I had weeks to live. The primary tumor was located between the back of my throat and my ear. It was the size of a chicken egg. The cancer had also spread to my lymph nodes in my neck, each lung, liver, and left humerus. You can't give anyone Hope. However, you can give them a song and in that song they may find Hope. This song along with God's amazing grace literally saved my life. I'm a walking miracle according the MD Anderson. I'm not a survivor, I'm a Warrior ~ Heath Batton

Unbreakable Joy said...

Truly it is a tremendously powerful song.

It has gotten me through many dark and difficult days.

Glad your doing well in the midst of the fight Heath. Keep it up!

Linda said...

Wow this song is amazing! I lost my father on Nov 15th 2010 to Alzheimer's. It was hard to see him die in this manner, but I heard this song and it gave me strength to endure. I know God has a devine plan that we may not always understand, but His way is perfect. Though the storm gets rough He is still there with you never leaving your side, I felt it. Lord I praise in my storm...

JodiB said...

I wondered where this song came from, what was the story. I googled it and when I read this I was brought to tears instantly thinking about this woman and her child. I am sorry it had to be written, but this song is amazing.

Famille Ferguson said...

My son Daniel liked Casting Crowns songs, so I was looking through some web links. Came across this song. It struck Home. Then I searched for the story behind the song and came here.
I and my wife have just lived our version of the Erin story, faith, fear, treatments, hope doubt, the articificial coma, the call to be with our wonderful son during his last mintutes on Earth...
We live now the conflict of believing that Daniel is with the Lord, and the pain that we actually feel in our hearts.
Our story is not one of extraordinary faith and witness like that of Erin, just a good lad who only wanted to serve and worship his God, asked by God to go down a special pathway. We have our own special pathway of pain and faith to follow. I hope that Laurie and her family have been blessed through these last years

Summer Beavers said...

The story behind the song, the song that I have cried to, the song that I have hit my knees to. God's whispers for me in this storm, and the gift of His unshakable faith that has carried me through the loss of my daughter. I randomly, not randomly, but I came across this blog and wow...thank you for sharing this...thank you!

Crazy For Christmas said...

Oh my goodness I am trying to post a blog about God being the calm of the storm in doing my research I found this...My best friend just lost her son to Cancer (DIPG) on the 27th of June her faith is so strong her son's was too he was 8. trying to find words of comfort is so hard all I can do is pray and listen when she needs me but, I can tell you she is crying out to God right now and I know that is the best thing to do. thank you for posting this.

Winnie Kiboi said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing.