Craig Morgan has, by his own admission, lived a life slightly more “abnormal and interesting” than the average 58 year old, from serving as an elite military operative and busting child prostitution rings in Southeast Asia to penning chart-topping country hits “Redneck Yacht Club” and “International Harvester.”
“I've done so much in my life that I never really thought about while it was happening. I just did things. And for me, at those moments that those things were happening it all seemed normal, completely natural,” Morgan, who is gearing up for the release of his memoir, God, Family, Country: Soldier, Singer, Husband, Dad — There’s a Whole Lot More to Me, told The Christian Post.
“It didn't seem odd at the time, but going back and reliving these things, you look back and go, ‘Wow, maybe that was a little more abnormal than I thought.’”
Throughout the highs and lows of his life, the country artist said the one thing that has been a constant source of comfort, protection and guidance is his unwavering faith in God.
“God has been involved in every aspect of my life. God had pushed and prodded and allowed me to participate in His activities,” he said. “I tell people, ‘The truth is, this is all God; it’s Him guiding me. … I may have been doing things for what I thought was my own good, but in fact, it was God doing it. And sometimes not just for me, but for others.”
And it was that faith, Morgan said, that sustained him following the tragic death of his 19-year-old son, Jerry. In July 2016, he and his wife, Karen, lost their son — the second youngest of their four children — who drowned while tubing on Kentucky Lake with friends.
That day, Morgan said, altered the lives of his family forever.
“I don't necessarily believe that my son's death was to make me a better person or a better Christian. I just don't believe that. And I don't believe that God did that. I believe the devil did that,” Morgan said.
“I've learned that our hardships and our heartaches and our pain — it's not always to benefit us. Sometimes we suffer for others.”
The artist paid tribute to his son in his 2019 track "The Father,My Son and the Holy Ghost," which includes the lines: “One day I'll wake up and I'll be home/ With the Father, my son, and the Holy Ghost.”
He shared how his own experience with grief has allowed him to minister to others.
Before he became a successful country artist, Morgan spent 17 years serving in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves, receiving the USO Merit Award and the Army’s Outstanding Civilian Service Medal. In recent years, he’s spent much of his time and energy maintaining relationships with the military by performing at entertainment events.
Recently, the mother of a fallen soldier came up to him at a Hope for the Warriors event and shared her story with him. And shortly before that, the artist spent time with another couple who had lost a son.
“I tell him there is nothing I can say that is going to change the pace of your heartache right now,” he said. “But what I will say is, having been there, I do know that God cares. And He is with us and in our heartache and in our pain. And even if we don't want Him there, He's still right there. And He's just waiting for us to ask Him for help. And He will deliver. I do believe that.”
“Focus on breathing,” he added. “Then take it second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, and eventually, one day in your life you will wake up and you will realize that the day prior, you missed your son the same amount that you missed your other children. You thought about him the same amount that you thought about your other children. You'll just recognize that he is not here, physically present, but he is still very much present in your life, heart, mind and soul.”
Today, six years after the death of his son, Morgan said the grief of losing Jerry is still deeply painful — but his faith, something he relies on every single day, is stronger than ever.
“My faith is strong. I experience joy. I don't have happiness the same way that I used to; happiness has a completely different meaning now,” he said. “I've learned that you can experience joy without happiness, but you cannot have happiness without joy. And you can still have pain and suffering and experience joy. In fact, sometimes there's joy in that pain and suffering.”
“I truly understand how people who don't know God, how they end up getting divorced and drinking and doing all the things that they do because they don't have our Father in Heaven to go to, and I do I have that,” he added. “So without that relationship, they lack that rock to stand on. They lack the hand of God to pick them up when they can't get themselves up.”
In addition to releasing his new memoir, Morgan is gearing up for the November release of his God, Family, Country (Deluxe Edition) album. The project, releasing on Veterans Day, features 14 tracks, including “How You Make A Man.”
Through his music and memoir — something he believes God orchestrated — Morgan hopes others see that “there can be light even in the darkest of times,” and that pain and suffering don’t always have to make sense.
“Sometimes we suffer for others; suffering is not just for our growth, but it could be for the growth and betterment of others,” he said. “The greatest of suffering for others was Christ Himself. He died on the cross for us.”
The artist cited John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
“I love that verse because I do believe that should be the purpose of our life; caring about others so much that we're willing to sacrifice for them. And I don't do that enough; I don't think I fight enough for unborn children; I don't think I fight enough for suffering souls that are lost and homeless. I'm hoping this is this book will inspire and encourage others to try to do better, be better and care more.”
God, Family, Country will be released by Blackstone Publishing on Sept. 27.
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org