Aaron Shust’s new album points to God’s graciousness toward men
Grace D Williamson
When life takes us through valleys and shadows, twists and turns, heartbreak and tears, we look for something solid to cling to. We get up, dust ourselves off, and plant our feet on the unshakable truths of the Gospel. We cling to what we know. This is the premise behind Aaron Shust’s latest album, This Is What We Believe.
His heartfelt new album, to be released by Centricity Music August 23, 2011, came to life during Shust’s own time of struggle. Shust recorded This Is What We Believe from his small hometown in Pennsylvania, working long-distance with Nashville producer Ed Cash. Meanwhile his wife and two-year-old son, Nicky, were living in the hospital where his son was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis. The doctors were keeping Nicky alive by feeding him through tubes, but they were steadily running out of treatment options.
When life looked most bleak, Shust managed to sing, “My hope is in You Lord/All the day long/I won’t be shaken by drought or storm/Peace that passes understanding is my song… My hope is in You Lord.”
These words he sang in the thick of suffering evolved into his latest hit single “My Hope Is In You” (written by April Geesbreght). Born of acute struggle, This Is What We Believe plumbs a deeper level of emotion than Shust’s previous works. A multiple-time Dove Award winner, he is known for his worshipful, gospel-centered lyrics. But This Is What We Believe may be his most passionate offering yet. It reminds us that, regardless of circumstances, God is forever good.
“Over the years,” Aaron says, “I’ve written a lot of songs speaking to my own soul the way David did in the Psalms: ‘Why are you downcast? Put your hope in God,’ But these new songs are a much bolder declaration. They come out of a difficult season, and these are declarations about who God is and who we are in Him because of His great love for us. This whole project is really about praising Him simply for who He is.”
In This Is What We Believe, Shust veers from the introspective lyrics prevalent in Christian music. Instead of looking within, Shust looks up. Scripture rich lyrics call listeners to reach for a might and power beyond their comprehension. His songs express a refreshing focus on the cross. Every track praises Christ and His sacrifice. The purpose behind Shust’s music is clearly revealed in his own rendition of “I Will Sing of My Redeemer.”
As he acknowledges his Savior, Shust carves a clear identity as an artist. “I left home years ago to pursue the opportunities that God put in front of me, and I value all that I learned and experienced during that time, but I think it took all those years and making several records to realize that what I really am at heart, is a worshipper. So as I’m writing songs now, I’m not writing things just for one guy to stand on stage and sing, but for worshippers to sing together.”
With passionate, guitar-driven melodies and anthem-like choruses, every track on This Is What We Believe calls listeners to sing along. Shust has created solid songs that focus wholly on Christ. They are the songs he sang when doctors diagnosed his two-year-old with a potentially fatal disease. They are also the songs he sang when his son’s disease vanished.
When Nicky’s tests came back normal, the doctors couldn’t explain it. It was as if what they considered a permanent condition had been completely erased. While they scratched their heads, Shust was still singing the same refrain: “God who saves, we proclaim your majesty” (“Your Majesty” by Aaron Shust).
The valley that Shust and his family traversed imbued his music with a deeper understanding of God’s graciousness toward men. He calls his listeners to cling to this grace that withstands tribulation. He puts it this way: “When your whole world is suddenly shaking, you need a firm place to stand. You see what it is in your life that’s stable and true and strong enough to hold you up, and you reach for that, you run to that. In a way, life becomes simpler because the distractions fall away and you find out what you really believe.”
Look for This Is What We Believe August 23rd, 2011!