Many of us have heard this phrase. Some of us may have even mistaken it for a Bible verse. But just because it’s not a direct quote from Scripture doesn’t make it untrue.
Just ask Gospel singer Mark Bishop. Bishop’s career in southern Gospel music started when he was just a young man singing with his brother, Kenny, and his father, Kenneth. The Bishops enjoyed success with their 27 national Top-40 songs, numerous awards, and national TV appearances.
When Bishop launched his solo career in 2002, his success continued. He has won multiple nominations and awards for his distinctive vocals, has written chart-topping songs, and is one of the few soloists invited to perform at the National Quartet Convention.
But Bishop’s career hasn’t been all glory and rainbows.
For starters, he can testify to the fact that eating most of your meals on a tour bus going 70 miles per hour does not help your digestion. He knows from the 17 years he spent touring with his family.
“I think I ate more meals moving than I did actually sitting still,” Bishop laughs. “I tried to put together meals at 2 o’clock in the morning at a Shell Mart consisting of canned meat and Doritos or whatever there was. It was terrible.”
A Painful Beginning
Beyond stomach-churning dinners, Bishop has experienced various difficult moments throughout his life and ministry. But through it all, he’s seen the handiwork of God.
Bishop’s family got their start in music because God unexpectedly used a difficult circumstance, namely, his grandmother’s arthritis.
“We began to sing—me and my dad and my brother—in our church, and our Granny Bishop loved listening to us sing,” he says. “She was still alive back then, but she had really bad arthritis. She got to where her arms and legs were just kind of drawn up and she couldn’t go to concerts anymore.”
Soon, Granny Bishop couldn’t even go to church to hear her family sing. The pain was simply too unbearable. So she gave the family some money to go record their songs on a cassette tape for her.
The family gave the recording studio their $500, but instead of receiving the one cassette tape Granny Bishop wanted, they got a whole box full.
“Back in the day, we didn’t know anything about recording music,” Bishop says. “I remember my dad saying, ‘We just want one!’ And they said, ‘It doesn’t work that way.’”
The Bishop family soon realized that was a good thing. Somehow, a local radio station got hold of one of the cassette tapes and started playing it. It wasn’t long before a man from Nashville called to ask the Bishops if they wanted to record an album.
“A few months after that, they called us and said, ‘Congratulations! You’ve got a hit song on the radio,’” Bishop recalls. “We said, ‘Which station?’ And they said, ‘All of them, brother! All of them!’”
A Life-Changing Concert
The family’s music career took off from that point, Bishop says. They started getting calls, not just from their home state of Kentucky, but also from Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, and Oklahoma. Soon after that, Bill Gaither asked the Bishops to sing on his videos.
Things were getting better and better for the Bishops. Before they knew it, they were creating music and touring full time.
It wasn’t until a few years later that Bishop realized how God turned his family’s pain into a blessing. The family was singing in the Georgia Dome for one of Bill Gaither’s videos when Bishop suddenly saw an elderly woman sitting in the front row. She looked just like Granny Bishop. It wasn’t her, but the resemblance made him realize an important truth.
“The whole reason we were standing there on that stage, singing the gospel message to 60,000 people, was because our Granny Bishop had really bad arthritis,” Bishop says. “And what the devil meant for pain and for hurt and for no good, God saw that exact same situation and said, ‘Now watch what I can do with this.’ And He took Granny’s pain and turned it into a plus, a bonus.”
How God Sees Your Circumstances
Since having this life-changing realization, Bishop has made an effort to always encourage people at his concerts. His goal is to remind weary Christians that their difficult circumstances don’t have the final say over their lives. God does—and His plans are good.
“You may feel like your circumstances limit you in what you can do and what you can achieve,” he says. “But God sees your circumstances in a much different way than you do. He can take the things we think can’t be used, and He can use them in a mighty way. That’s what He did with our music ministry.”
You can expect Mark Bishop to encourage the crowd once again when he performs at the 40 Days & Nights of Gospel Music at the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. As God’s people gather for 40 days to worship Jesus and hear sound preaching, Bishop is excited to see how the Lord will encourage believers.