Back in the summer of 2008, just a few months before the Bear was born, I can remember passionately singing the words to the worship song How He Loves in a cinema-turned church service in the city centre of Edinburgh, Scotland. I remember commenting to a friend that the song felt like a “modern day hymn” as we softly repeated the verses we’d sung that morning in the car on the way home.

It was a song full of life, a fresh look at the love of God, and a song best described by the word passion.

It was only this morning, all these years later, that I heard the powerful backstory to the birth of this beautiful song, and nearly wept.

In November of 2002, a worshiper of God named John Mark McMillan received a call that two of his friends had been critically injured in a car accident. Later that evening, he received another call from his father that Stephen Coffey, his best friend, had passed away.

The next morning he woke up, and as Jonathan David Helser described it in this awesome podcast {click the one called “Born for Greatness”, he decided to get up, and as an answer to the voices surrounding him asking “How could God do this? How can God take your best friend and still be good? Is God really good?” he picked up his guitar and began to sing, over and over again, “He loves us. Oh, how He loves us. He loves us. How He loves us so.”

It was the birth of a song of passion, sung with joy and with weeping by people across this nation and throughout the world. {It was covered by David Crowder Band in 2009 and received a Dove Award in 2010.}

It turns out that on that night, McMillan’s friend Stephen Coffey was at church: a youth minster, at a church prayer meeting. He prayed aloud at that prayer meeting, “I’d give my life today if it would shake the youth of the nation.” And it was that very night that he was in a multi-car accident and died of serious injuries.

That song has shaken the youth of this nation. And to that God who loves us so — our mysterious, majestic, and great Creator — to Him be the glory.

{Yes this is long, but it is worth listening to the end. Very worth it.}