Newcomer Hope Darst had a successful debut single in 2020 with the anthem “Peace Be Still” and said the song “rescued” her during one of her lowest points.
"Peace Be Still" hit No. 1 on the iTunes Top 40 U.S. Christian & Gospel Albums Chart upon its release and continued to be a Christian radio favorite throughout a tumultuous 2020.
"When I look back at the timing of God, I'm actually really grateful that I put a record out this year because I was able to put out a record that, I hope when people listen to it, they can sense there's 39 years of life in that record, there's 39 years of wisdom. Of having walked out really hard seasons with the Lord,” Darst told The Christian Post.
The singer released her first major album, named after her title track just months before her 40th birthday, and believes God’s timing was strategic.
"I didn't write ‘Peace Be Still’ because I wanted to have a good song about peace, or because I was trying to write out of that scripture. My friends and I were walking out really difficult journeys. I was struggling with crippling anxiety and fear. My friend was watching a promise in her life that she had contended for for years falling apart, and neither of us felt peace,” Darst said.
"We had to make a choice in that moment, as worshipers, as believers, either we are going to put into practice the truth of God's Word and the promises of God's Word and confess that over our life right now, or we are going to actually submit to the truth of our emotions and the truth of our circumstances and the truth of our feelings. And they're going to drown us with fear and anxiety and worry, which is what so many of us have dealt with this year,” she continued.
“Peace Be Still” has more than 45 million digital streams and a radio airplay audience of more than 121 million between her single as well as the extended live version of the song recorded by The Belonging Co and All The Earth.
Darst said that in the process of penning the song in 2017 up to its release in 2020 she learned something instrumental about God’s peace.
“I've kind of thought about it a lot in the last couple of years. Peace is not a feeling. Peace is a person,” the singer told CP. “Jesus is called the Prince of Peace, the author of peace. I think what you can experience a lot of times is we think that peace is this real calm feeling, where stress and worry and concern are absent. But that's not actually real peace, right? Because that can change on a dime, the minute something enters into your life, and it's stressful, or it's worrisome, or it's difficult, or it's tragic.”
The wife and mother admitted that 2020 had been a challenge for her as she balanced being a mom, homeschool teacher, singer and wife all during the global pandemic. Her definition of peace, she said, comes from “someone who has years and years of struggling with anxiety, and struggling with worry.”
"I've had panic attacks in the past, so I'm very familiar with the weight that can come with worrying and being fearful and stressing. What I've had to do is I've had to tell myself, that peace is not a feeling. Peace is a person. I have to choose to anchor myself to this person, when I am drowning in my emotions, when I am drowning in my thoughts, when I'm drowning in my feelings,” Darst added.
When I anchor myself to the person of peace, that means I also anchor myself to His promises that says, 'Do not be anxious about anything. But tell me what you're worried about with praise and thanksgiving and then the peace of God, which transcends everything that you understand, everything that you're thinking about, everything that you're worrying about will go away, and I will guard your heart with peace.’”
Darst noted that peace understood in that way is “a fortress around your mind and a fortress around your heart that allows you to say, I recognize what's happening, I see what's happening. There's truth to that difficult, worrisome situation. But I'm subscribing to a truth that I'm not a slave to the emotions that come with that situation.”
She testified that that kind of peace "rescued me over and over and over in my life when anxiety has risen up or worries."
The Kentucky native said people can't think their way out of worry, anxiety, or fear.
“I can't mentally just do gymnastics to get out of anxiety, I actually have to go get the Word of God and I actually have to wash it over my mind and wash it over my heart and pull down and take captive the thoughts and emotions that want to rise themselves above the knowledge of who Jesus is,” Darst maintained.
"I think that that's why this song is so powerful, because it's acknowledging the emotions of what we feel. But it's declaring the promise of God being our peace and His authority to stop the wave of stress, to stop the wave of anxiety, to stop the wave of fear. Even in the middle of the storm,” she said.
Of her success later in life, Darst said that it doesn’t “make sense in the natural.”
“This is not when you get a record deal, your first record deal,” she declared, encouraging people to never give up hope. “So anyone who's bought into a lie that it's too late, it's over, it's past you. Well, that's not actually true. There are so many stories that prove that in the Bible, and even here, modern-day, real-time.”
"If you're just in a waiting season, allow that waiting season to be a season where you build trust, and you build maturity because then when you come out of that waiting season and God releases you, you want to be able to carry the weight of whatever He's put on your life and not be crushed underneath it. Trust that His timing is for your benefit. It's not for your penance, or it's not for your punishment or your rejection, it's actually for your protection,” she concluded.
The following video is Darst’s interview in its entirety.