Grammy winner and legendary Christian singer Toby Mac is known best for his upbeat, positive songs — from Move to The Elements — yet after the death of his son Truett in 2019, he wasn’t sure if he could write another one.
Days after the tragedy, he wrote 21 Years, a tribute to his son. Weeks later, he and his daughter Marlee wrote Everything About You, another song that looked back fondly on Truett’s life.
He wrote two more, Faithfully and Promised Land, that alluded to the peace God had brought him during his mourning.
None of them, though, had the up-tempo rhythm that helped make Toby Mac famous.
“One day, I thought to myself, ‘I guess I will write songs from my sadness for the rest of my life. Sure, there’s no lack of faith in them, but I don’t think I’ll ever write another up-tempo song. It’s just not in me anymore,’” Toby Mac said in an interview shared with Christian Headlines. “And then I read a Scripture that caught my attention. I had never noticed it before, and it spoke directly to my heart. It said, ‘God is rolling up his sleeves.’”
The verse inspired him.
“I couldn’t get the imagery out of my mind, and it began to take root in my soul,” he added.
Within a few days, Toby Mac had written Help is on the Way, an upbeat song about God’s faithfulness amidst tragedy. He recorded it in the studio in about two days — a rare feat in his career, he said.
Months later, he was at a restaurant when he wrote on a napkin, “You’re still the goodness in my life.”
“I knew that moment, it had to be a song,” he said. The napkin scribble turned into a song, Goodness, recorded with Blessing Offor.
Toby Mac’s newest album, Life After Death, releases Friday with the aforementioned songs and several others that likely will become upbeat hits. One of them, Space, includes his old DC Talk bandmates, Michael Tait and Kevin Max.
“In all my pain and grief, the unexpected began to emerge,” he said. “I didn’t think it was possible, and even though I will never be the same, it was undeniably a strand of joy. God didn’t leave. He remained. And I will forever be a different man. A saint is not someone who is good; a saint is someone who experiences the goodness of God. I know that goodness; I have tasted it. And though it will always be messy, I am now a believer in Life After Death.”
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Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Terry Wyatt/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.