When the pandemic first hit in early 2020, Jeremy Camp, like millions of Americans, had a singular goal: To get it over with.
“I remember that feeling I had — ‘I just want to get through this. I can't wait to get through this,'” the 43-year-old Grammy-nominated singer recalled in an interview with The Christian Post.
But at that moment, the artist heard God clearly say to him: “Jeremy, I want to get through to you during this. I want to teach you things during this. You have to be willing to listen and not just try to get through it.”
“It was kind of a shift of mindset for me,” Camp said. “It really was such a beautiful picture of allowing God to do the deep work in our hearts that we all need to do. I know that I need some deep work in my heart.”
“I realized that when you allow God to speak to your heart, what flourishes and what comes out is such life and such joy and hope and peace," he added. "All of those things come out when you let the Lord speak to your heart and whatever circumstance you're in.”
The biggest lesson God taught him amid the pandemic, Camp said, was that he's a "control freak" — and that God is calling him to surrender that desire for control, leaning on Him with all his heart.
“I think one of the things that you realize is, I can't control this,” Camp said. “It’s daily saying, ‘OK God, I'm going to trust you. I'm not going to try to understand this, because I don't understand it. I don't understand, still, what's happening.’ And He says, ‘I’ll direct you.’”
“God always says, ‘I'm sufficient for all your needs. I'm sufficient in every circumstance. [The Apostle] Paul says, ‘I'm content in every circumstance.’ I think God has to teach us, and we have to learn to be content.”
It was this encounter with God that inspired Camp’s latest single, “When You Speak.” The song opens with the lyrics, “I find it's always the lie that is loudest/ I know the One with the power/ Is never the one who is shoutin'.”
“Everyone’s experiencing just those lies of anxiety and depression ... fears and worries and doubts,” he said. “The enemy is trying to steal, kill and destroy. He’s throwing his lies, and the voices that are the loudest in our head are those things. And God just saying, 'I have the power. Trust me.’”
The song is featured on Camp’s forthcoming album, also titled When You Speak. The artist, who holds the title for most No. 1 singles among solo artists on the Christian Airplay chart, said the album, slated for September release, is the result of reflecting on the last few decades of his life and asking God to speak to him during the process.
“Imagine having a whole year-and-a-half to process through the past 21 years of your life, because I was forced to, in a good way,” he said.
“God reached down deep in my soul like and pulled out some things that needed to be said,” Camp shared. “I'm excited for people to hear the whole thing ... because there's a whole theme of things that God speaks when we hear His voice.”
Though the last year was a “crash course in trust,” the Indiana native said choosing to trust God amid trials has been a theme throughout his life.
From losing his first wife to cancer in 2001 — a story documented in Camp's biography and later in the hit film “I Still Believe” — to navigating family life, his music career and humanitarian work, the singer said he finds comfort in Proverb 3:5-6. The verse reads: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”
The pandemic, the father-of-three said, provided the Western Church with the much-needed reminder that Jesus calls His people to deny themselves and follow Him — and that the Christian life isn’t always a comfortable one. Focusing on Jesus, Camp stressed, is the only thing that provides “true peace” in times of uncertainty.
“Our creature comforts have been completely obliterated for the good. And I think that we need to … realize for one, how blessed we are, but how over-abundance of things that we have and how much we have kind of bought into the American dream.”
“I think we've lost the edge of denying ourselves, picking up our cross daily,” he added. “We've lost that edge, and I don't want to lose that edge. I know that I've had many moments of losing that edge, where I feel like I'm just getting super comfortable, and God continues to challenge me. I think we need to be challenged ... and not forget the whole Gospel. As we follow Jesus, we deny ourselves.”
Through his album, Camp said he hopes that listeners will realize their deep need for Jesus — just like he did in the wake of the pandemic.
“I want people to get that craving, like they realize, ‘Oh my goodness, I've been so thirsty and so in need of a deeper walk with Jesus,’ and that's the craving of their heart, and they start pursuing that. That's my heart's desire," he said.
Camp and his wife, Adrienne, a South African-born Christian singer-songwriter, are behind the nonprofit Speaking Louder. Despite the pandemic, the organization has continued its mission to reach hundreds of thousands around the world through free evangelistic concerts in partnership with local ministry leaders.
Over the past eight years, the ministry has also established lasting mercy-based projects, including building over 30 homes and wells in leper colonies in India and a hospital in Uganda.
Through the ministry, Camp said he and his wife strive to be the “hand and feet of Christ,” adding: “Our heart is sharing the Gospel and having a tangible resource to provide for those needs.”
Whatever the future holds, Camp said he’s confident in the One who holds the future. He encouraged other believers to remember that God is sovereign over even the darkest of times.
“God sees the whole picture; so this whole situation that we're going through, He sees the whole thing from beginning to end. Our face is kind of shoved up against it, so we don't really see what's really happening. We might get tidbits of it or a piece of it, but not truly the full picture. I think that you just have to trust that He sees the picture, and that He actually knows what's best and that He is in control and He loves us.”
“I think that we are continuing to learn to trust and continuing to learn that He's in control," he added. "Know that He has the whole picture in mind and that He is sufficient and provides all that we need in the midst of our trials.”