The Valley of the Shadow of Death

with Jeremy Camp | June 5, 2015

Jeremy Camp talks about one of the most pivotal events of his life-the death of his wife, Melissa, just 100 days after their wedding. Burdened with grief, Jeremy shares how he struggled with God and even his own faith, until a weekend alone brought spiritual breakthrough.

Jeremy Camp talks about one of the most pivotal events of his life-the death of his wife, Melissa, just 100 days after their wedding. Burdened with grief, Jeremy shares how he struggled with God and even his own faith, until a weekend alone brought spiritual breakthrough.

The Valley of the Shadow of Death

With Jeremy Camp
June 05, 2015
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: Jeremy Camp and his wife, Melissa, were married for a hundred days when she died of cancer. In the weeks that followed her death, Jeremy wrestled with grief—also, with doubt.

Jeremy: Well, I’m sitting there at my parents’ house in Indiana. The Lord spoke and said to me, “Pick your guitar up.”  And I kind of denied that for a little while. I was like, “No, I don’t want to pick the guitar up.”  After a while, it was like, “Pick your guitar up.”  So, I picked my guitar up and started strumming. What came out was, “Okay, I still believe in Your faithfulness.”

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, June 5th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Jeremy Camp joins us today to share with us how, even when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you need not fear for God is with you. Stay tuned.


And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. We’ve had a chance, this week, to hear from singer/songwriter, Jeremy Camp, sharing, not just his music, but his life with us.

And Dennis, we’ve already heard this week about how he met and married Melissa—a young woman he met in Southern California. He was interested in her—she wasn’t interested in him. He actually wound up visiting her in the hospital after she had been diagnosed with cancer. It was during that time in the hospital that they reconnected, and fell in love, and wound up getting married. They actually thought the cancer had been taken care of—

Dennis: —but it came back with a fury.

You know, here is the thing, Bob—this broadcast is all about holding up marriage as God designed it—whether it lasts 100 days or you go for the gold and you go 50 or 60 years.



I want you to know that FamilyLife Today is here to uphold what God created. He designed marriage—not man.

And for those of you who are donors to this ministry—Legacy Partners / people who help this ministry—I just want to say: “Thanks for giving. Thanks for being on the team.” and “Thanks for making a broadcast like this possible and for telling this story—in major cities, and small cities, and small communities, all across the country—[to people] who desperately need to know that marriage and family are still divinely-designed and God knows what He’s doing.

Bob: The story we are going to hear today is Jeremy Camp’s story. I think many of our listeners know the award-winning singer/songwriter, Jeremy Camp, who has had dozens of number-one records. He’s sold more than four million CDs throughout his career.



He’s toured all across the country, but I don’t know how many of our listeners know the stories behind some of Jeremy’s songs.

We’re going to get a chance to hear that today as we step into his story, right after he and his wife, Melissa, were married.

[Previously Recorded Interview]

Bob: It was not long after you got back from your honeymoon that you were in the doctor’s office again. This time, they said, “It’s not good.”

Jeremy: Yes, we—so, we went in—you know, after the honeymoon, you’re on this high. Everything is just—it’s amazing. We kind of pushed aside the fact she was noticing some issues.

So, we went in; and the doctor pulled me aside. I went out of the room—I said, “Okay, so, what’s going on?”  He goes, “Well, the cancer has returned; and it’s spread very rapidly.”  I said: “Okay, well, what’s the next step?  What do we do?”  He, literally, said—he goes, “There’s nothing else we can do.”  And I remember: “What do you mean?”  He goes, “She has weeks to months to live.”


I just wept. I fell on the ground and just wept. I remember I went into the room afterwards, and she saw my face. I didn’t actually even tell her because, really, she knew it wasn’t good. Not until we started driving home is when she: “What did he exactly say to you?”

Bob: You grew up in a family where—when the car wouldn’t start, you laid hands on the engine. You grew up with groceries on the front porch.

Jeremy: Absolutely.

Bob: So, part of you is thinking, “We’re just going to believe God, and He’s going to heal you,”—

Jeremy: Yes.

Bob: —“and we move on.”

Jeremy: That’s exactly right. So, when I heard that—she had the faith as well, but there was just a moment—it was a God moment—I just said: “We’re going to fight this. We’re going to battle this.”  I mean, we did everything. We had pastors and friends and laid hands constantly—prayed constantly to the point where I was going, “She’s going to be healed,”—not even a question. It literally was, for me, not even a question.

And of course, you have your scary moments—



—I remember to the point where I couldn’t take care of her at home any longer. So, we ended up in the hospital.

Bob: How are you processing?—this all-powerful, all-loving God, who you trust and you believe in, and your wife’s deteriorating condition and coming to a point where you’re going, “I don’t think she’s going to make it.”  How are you making sense of that in your own life?

Jeremy: You know, it’s something that you really have to understand God’s sovereignty, His goodness, His mercy, and His faithfulness in the midst of what we may think is supposed to be. You see, because we always have an idea of what something should be or something should turn out to be. My ideal, of course—heal. We go out / we have a story of a miracle—or a story of God’s healing power—and we’re going to share this with the world. I mean, we’re going to be in front of thousands of people, sharing of God’s goodness—singing songs—and she’s going to be there.



So, you have to come to grips with: “God, are You trustworthy?”  That was a question I started having: “Can I really trust You—really trust You?”

Dennis: You and Melissa were married October 21st

Jeremy: Yes.

Dennis: —2000. She died February 5, 2001—she lived 100 days—

Jeremy: —during our marriage.

Bob: Take us to those last days because there was a moment in that hospital room that was a pretty amazing moment in the midst of her pain, and suffering, and unconsciousness—

Jeremy: Yes.

Bob: —there was a moment; wasn’t there?

Jeremy: Yes, there was. So, one thing that I do want to share that I remember—she was praying that one person would accept the Lord. I remember—before she came to the point where she wasn’t comprehending and she was just not awake any longer—the nurse had received the Lord that had been taking care of her—that she’d been praying for. So, we got to tell her that before she died.



And—so, I haven’t shared all of this for a long time.

[Emotion in voice] I remember it was five hours before she went to be with the Lord. I remember she stood up out of bed and goes: “It’s gone!  It’s gone!”  And I was—I thought, “Okay, this is just a moment where she is not really understanding what’s happening.”  She looked at me directly in the face; and she goes, “Jeremy, you have to believe me it’s gone.”  And I thought, “She’s healed!”  She laid down and fell asleep; and then, never woke up again.

I remember—when I first heard the words, “She’s with Jesus now,” I was on the ground, just weeping in the fetal position, crying out to God, just saying: “God, I’m so confused. What just happened?”  There was worship music playing in the background. I remember God just saying to me, “I want you to stand up and worship Me.”  And my dad—I remember him helping me up—



—and we all just started raising our hands for the Lord. It was the most powerful moment in my life. I felt the presence of God so thick—I can’t even explain it: “She’s with Jesus.”

And I now know why she looked at me and said, “It’s gone.”  I believe that she was with Jesus already, and her body was physically healed. She was in her new body, and I really do believe that. At first, it was difficult; but then, it was comforting because I went: “Okay, it’s done. She’s—no more tears, no more sorrow, and no more pain. She’s with Jesus.”

Bob: You titled your book and the song—

Jeremy: Yes.

Bob: I Still Believe.

Jeremy: Yes.

Bob: Tell us about writing that in the midst of just reflecting on everything you’ve shared with us here.

Jeremy: Yes, it was probably—it was two or three weeks after she went to be with the Lord. I was at home and questions after questions.



At this point, I started going, “God, can I trust You?”  I did—I had those questions. When I was reading about Jesus healing and saying, “If you have faith, I’ll heal you,” “I have faith!”

Dennis: Sure.

Jeremy: I remember taking my Bible and saying, “I have faith!” and throwing it across the room and just—so, all of these questions.

Finally, while I’m sitting there at my parents’ house in Indiana, the Lord spoke to me and said, “Pick your guitar up.”  So, I picked my guitar up. I started strumming. What came out was: “Okay, I still believe in Your faithfulness. I still believe in Your truth. I still believe in Your Word. Even when I can’t see, I still believe.”  I just started writing the lyrics of that, and I wrote a song in ten minutes—I just wrote exactly how I was feeling.

It started off just: “Scattered words / empty thoughts seem to pour from my heart. Never seemed so torn before—seemed I don’t know where to start.”  All of these real questions like David did—David, sometimes: “God, why are my enemies prospering?



Why are they coming against me?  Why”—these questions; but then, there is resolve at the end of the question.

In the song, there was resolve at the end of my question—just said: “God, but I still believe in Your faithfulness. I still believe in Your truth. I still believe in Your Word.”  And David always says, “But, God, Your loving kindness endures forever.”

Bob: That is the pattern of the Psalms over and over again.

Jeremy: Over and over. And I didn’t think about it during that moment; but I realized, going back—going: “It doesn’t mean we can’t have those times, and those wrestles, and those battles. It’s part of it.”  But the resolve, for me, was saying, “I still trust You; okay.”

Dennis: Did your faith fully come back at that point?  Do you feel like you turned, even in the midst of the grief—and still obviously experienced grief—but do you feel like, at that point, you were able to stand firm?

Jeremy: At that point, I was able to stand. There were some shaky moments; and not until about six months later, when I had a real moment of breaking—so there were some moments. Nothing crazy that I did—nothing crazy—but just feeling like, “God, can I really trust You once again?”


Dennis: And I so appreciate you sharing that because I think a lot of people view our faith, or their faith, like it’s a—

Bob: —a switch.

Dennis: —switch on the wall—

Bob: Yes.

Jeremy: Yes.

Dennis: —that you flip and instantly everything is okay.

Jeremy: Right.

Dennis: That’s not the case.

Jeremy: No, absolutely. I mean, it took six months of—

Dennis: And it’s okay to doubt.

Jeremy: It is okay. It’s okay to doubt and have questions. I mean, you look at that constantly—even in the Word—questions. I mean, why did Abraham twice go, “This is my sister”; you know?  God saying, “Why would you do that?”  And He was going to the king or the ruler and saying, “Hey, get her away, or I’m going to put a plague upon your house,” and “Abraham, why would you do that?”  Constantly doubting: “God, are You really going to come through?”

And I think, for me, I look at even Jesus on the cross—not that He doubted—but hear me out here—He said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” even though God had not forsaken Him; but what did He say right away?  “But into Thy hands, I commit my Spirit.”  And there is a resolve.



Like I said—“I’m trying to wrap my brain around that,”—but I’m thinking about that because of what I’ve been through. There are questions, but there has got to be resolve. There has to be resolve. We don’t always understand even the answers—and we won’t until we get to heaven—but we can resolve and say, “But I trust You.”

Dennis: Jeremy, this quote isn’t for our audience who are listening on the radio or the live audience we’re doing this interview in front of—this is for you. It’s a quote that had a great impact in my life around doubt and around faith given to me by a guy by the name of Tom Skinner. He said this: “I spent a long time trying to come to grips with my doubts when suddenly I realized I had better come to grips with what I believe.”

Jeremy: Exactly.

Dennis: “I have since moved from the agony of questions that I still can’t answer to the reality of answers that I cannot escape, and it’s a great relief.”

Jeremy: Wow!


Amen. That’s all I can say, to be honest.

Bob: Play your psalm for us; would you?

Jeremy: I Still Believe?

Bob: Yes.

Jeremy: That’s an amazing quote.

[Jeremy singing I Still Believe]







Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to a conversation we had—we shared with our staff, here at FamilyLife, as Jeremy Camp came and spent some time with us and told about his life / his marriage.

Dennis: And for those listeners who just heard Jeremy—and they are in some kind of valley right now in their lives—maybe as a single person, as a married, as divorced, as a grandparent—I just want to read a couple of passages from 1 Peter, Chapter 4. It says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you as though something strange were happening to you.”

We, as believers, really forget that suffering is a part of following Jesus Christ. He said, “A servant will not be greater than his master.”  And if the Master came to suffer, then, we are going to suffer too.



So, don’t be surprised as though some strange thing was happening to you; but it’s there to conform you to the image of Christ.

And a little bit later on in that same chapter, he adds a second point. Verse 16 of Chapter 4 of 1 Peter says, “Yet, if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”  All of us have a responsibility of how we respond to suffering when we suffer. How are you going to respond?  Are you going to gripe?  Are you going to shake your fist at God?  Are you going to give up on the community of faith and turn your back on it and go find life somewhere else?

There isn’t life in any other. There’s only One who offers life, and that’s Jesus Christ. And I want to let you know that He’s coming back, and Peter talks about that in his second book [2 Peter 3:1-13]—


—he said, “Let us remind one another of the hope of His second coming.” That hope keeps me going some days as I suffer / as I’m facing issues I don’t want to face—as I’d rather take an easy route. It is about His reputation, His glory, His purposes; and what you and I have to do is respond in faith and keep walking—just keep walking. Don’t give up.

Bob: Yes. Job said, “Though He slay me, yet, will I trust in Him.”  And that’s what Jeremy’s song is all about—that’s what his story is all about as we’ve heard him share this week.

We’ve also got copies of the book he has written called I Still Believe, where he shares his story. We’d encourage you—if you are a fan of Jeremy Camp, or you know someone who is, or if you just want to read a compelling story of a man who walks by faith—go to



Click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER,” and order a copy of the book, I Still Believe, by Jeremy Camp. Again, the website is You can also call to request a copy of the book. Ask for I Still Believe when you call 1-800-FL-TODAY. That’s 1-800-358-6329—1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”

Let me also mention that we kind of have a “rest of the story” feature on our website with Jeremy Camp. We continued our conversation with him after we were done recording these programs. He shares about how he met and married the woman who is now his wife, and he sings one more song. So, go to Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER,” and look for the Jeremy Camp bonus audio—the rest of the story from Jeremy Camp.



You can listen to that on the website or on your mobile device.

You know, listening to Jeremy’s story today—I’m just reminded of the fact that, for all of us, there are unexpected difficulties that are ahead for us on the road—whether it’s in marriage, in our family, in a job situation. That’s part of the reality of life. Those unexpected difficulties can create challenges for marriages and for families.

The best way to be ready for those challenges when they come is to be walking by faith today so that, when something hits, walking by faith is not something that you have to learn how to do then. It’s something you already know how to do because it’s how you live in the brighter days. Here at FamilyLife Today, we are committed to providing practical biblical help for your marriage and for your family and to call you, every day, to walk by faith.

We want to thank those of you who share this mission with us—



—those of you who believe in what FamilyLife Today is all about—and those of you who support us, as Legacy Partners, giving on a monthly basis, or those of you who, from time to time, will make a donation in support of FamilyLife Today. We couldn’t do what we do without you. Your support is essential to this ministry.

And if you can help with a donation today of, at least, $50, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by sending you a book for men from Dennis Rainey—the book, Stepping Up—and for women from Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian, the new True Woman 201: Interior Design book. These two books are our thank-you gift to you when you support the ministry today with a donation of, at least, $50.

You can do that, online, at Click the link in the upper right-hand corner of the screen that says, “I CARE”; or you can make a donation by calling 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make your donation over the phone and ask for the two books we were talking about. Or you can mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111,

Little Rock, AR.



And our zip code is 72223.

And we want to say we hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday when we’re going to hear about just how powerful a father can be in the life of his son. Jeff Kemp joins us. We’ll hear his reflections on his own father, Jack Kemp. Hope you can tune in for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. Have a great weekend. We’ll see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.

©Song: I Still Believe

Artist:   Jeremy Camp (Performed Live on Program]

Album: Stay (p) 2002 BEC Recordings


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