Does it seem to any of you that things the last few months or so have been really hard? That there are more people struggling and hurting? As I’ve gone through my dad’s continued health struggles (2 more hospitalizations in the last 3 ½ weeks), my own health frustrations (bursitis on my knee after starting an exercise program of walking on the treadmill. I mean, seriously? I start exercising and end up with a golf ball of inflammation on my darned knee??), to a close friend losing her beloved dog…it just seems that struggles are hitting us all. And yet, in the midst of the hard times, we’ve seen God’s light, felt His comfort and love, and known He is present in the struggle with us. That has been such a grace and a blessing as we’ve gone through these recent days.
I must confess, though, as I pondered the struggles we’ve faced of late, that a part of me was a bit…peeved, I guess. Have you felt that way when you hit the struggles? You know, that sense of here I am, are doing this writing task for God, ministering to others, and WHAM! I’m smacked between the eyes with pain and trauma. What is up with THAT?
That sense of being peeved faded, though, when God’s whisper reminded me that, if we are to be authentic in what we write, in speaking truth into to the hearts and lives and pain of our readers, we must know the struggle well. We must, as Robert Frost says in his poem below, be well acquainted with the night. With the dark, hard places. So I thought I’d share Frost’s poem with you. It’s a favorite of mine, because it resonates within me…
I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain – and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,
But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.
Friends, don’t fear the night. Remember, we are, ever and always, members of Christ’s fellowship of suffering. In our lives. In our writing. And we can, as Scripture exhorts, count that truth “all joy” because it means we walk in His footsteps, and we will be able to use our own experience of the struggle to minister to others. You and I KNOW that God is present in the chaos, in the hard places, because we’ve seen and felt Him there ourselves. We are acquainted with the night.
And that makes us better, more authentic writers.
Great post, Karen. The last few months have been a struggle, but I’ve always felt God’s presence.
I hope you have a blessed day!
It really has seemed like a pretty dark few months for many people. On top of the personal tragedies many of my family and friends have been through, there’s the national tragedies taking place. But my father-in-law said something the other day that really struck me. Basically, he said that darkness is just the shadow cast when God’s light hits our humanity. That darkness is when we get in the way.
I love that. Thanks for sharing this.
Been feeling exactly that. Thanks for the reminder and refocus. And the wonderful poem! I repeat three words when the going gets tough. Three words that never change. God is good.
The struggle is always there… waiting with its fangs to dig deep. I do my best to keep my eyes on Jesus, for I know He’s always there, however hard it may be..
Thank you very much Karen for your encouraging words. Prayers for your dad (and you of course!)
Amen and amen…
Thanks for the post, Karen! I’ve also been struggling with my dad and had to put him back in the nursing home…and my youngest son continually tests my patience as does my “real” job, outside of being an author. As I walk the journey, however, I find myself thinking of Job – he had everything so perfectly aligned in his life and God stripped it away until he had nothing left…and yet, he never lost his faith. My husband always tells me that I do a good job of “hiding” my inner turmoil from those around me to the point that they don’t even know that something is wrong – I’m not hiding it though, I’m sharing it with God, and He’s carrying the heavy load…
Suffering is inevitable to humans. We are created so magnificently in the image of God. Endowed with sensitivities and capacities that surely must be weaker versions of His. So how much more must our loving Creator suffer along with us. He created perfection and humankind willfully skewed it all. We all fret about our burdens. They are very heavy for such frail beings. But perhaps it helps to remember that He is the captain of our team and guides those same sensitivities into moments of pure joy and laughter. I will pray for you, Karen.
Great timing and reminder.
What a great post, Karen. It has been a rough last thirteen months for my family. We lost three close family members, including my biggest fan and supporter, my Daddy. I have a hard time picking up my novel and working on it since he passed. But I kept seeking after God and feel closer to him midst the trouble in my life. I think I will print this blog post off and carry it in Bible. Thanks so much, Karen. I needed this.
Thank you for sharing what’s going on in your life. I knew something must have happened a couple of weeks ago. God bless you and your family.
You’re right, many people are hurting now. I’ve been struggling with my health as well and wondering what God has in mind for my writing career. I love what Brennan said above about God casting His light on our humanity.
Peace to everyone who is walking in the night. I’m honored to have your company on the journey.
Janet Ann Collins
Karen, I pray for you and your dad every day.
Thank you, Karen. So timely for me right now. Keeping you in prayer, dear friend.
A beautiful reminder of the realities of life, Karen. A lifeguard has to know how to swim in a riptide to save a drowning swimmer. Some things are only learned by doing it.
So many of the trials I’ve struggled through with God’s help have been training for helping others through the same problem. It’s a blessing to throw God’s lifeline to someone with the assurance that He pulled me out of the same pit with what I’m offering them. I sure don’t like the trials while I’m in them, but I’ve been able to thank God for them later.
I love the truth behind this post, Karen. No one really knows our struggles or our pain, but through Christ we are overcomers and our writing holds much more depth.
This resonates. It’s true for me as well. The past few months have drained me emotionally and zapped my energy. Last week the discouragement hit hard. I will share what I did to counter it. In addition to my daily quiet time, I included 20 minutes of meditating on Jesus’ name, saying and thinking on His name, pushing all other thoughts aside, sitting in absolute stillness while absorbing His presence. It’s similar to praying the Jesus Prayer (Lord have mercy on me a sinner) repeatedly. I borrowed this idea from the monastic community, which often incorporates centered prayers of faith and trust. My inner self began to recharge. Oh, I was also praying for joy. This week started with another big, emotional challenge/crisis but the peace of God is carrying me along, and I am continuing to pray the strength of Jesus’ name.
As we all know, it is in the suffering and struggle that we become vulnerable, but this provides an opening where the grace of God enters into those very places (they create receptive openings). Thankful. Praises.
Janet Ann Collins
Sending prayers and hugs for you, Norma.
Ah, Karen, you are learning what I learned as I went through two bouts with cancer and Rex’s health problems. There is always a reason for whatever comes in the darkest night. God has a plan, and as I struggled with my own doubts and fears, He taught me to have patience and joy in the midst of every trial.
After 80 years of life, I see God’s hand all over it. Some of the deepest pain I experienced, God has used to show my readers through my characters how God will see us through. He sends the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us on the journey.
Thank you for the reminder of the power of the Lord to bring us through the night. Each day, I choose to have joy and peace no matter what may come my way.
Agree with what Carol said about these struggles preparing us to help others. Empathy and understanding are real when you see someone else going through the very same thing. There is something about helping them through it that lightens our own pain. God’s purpose in all of it may not be fully revealed to us, but experiencing the peace of His presence makes those painful times so much more bearable. Blessings to you and your father, Karen. I lost my daddy nearly 12 years ago and still miss him so much.
Sheri Dean Parmelee
Karen, thanks for the blog. Robert Frost is an all-time favorite of mine; he wrote a poem called Home Burial about the loss of a first child. The intriguing thing is that he had recently lost a child himself. By experiencing pain, he was able to relate to the feelings of others and reach out to them. We are able to empathize with others through our pain and, by taking those struggles through the lens of our Christian faith, we can truly demonstrate the love of Christ.
Ah, Karen, you are much in my prayers – you and your dad. It seems that things go very wrong when we are in the middle of God’s will and working for His purposes.
The enemy is afraid of obedient working Christians. They spoil his plans. But God has the last laugh. Nothing the enemy can throw at us can defeat us.
And the more troubles and trials we go through, the more people we can help and encourage. Lose-lose for the enemy. Win-win for God and His kingdom.
You have all lifted my spirit today. Thank you.
Thank you for your words. Praying for your struggles. Family members hurts affect us and is hard to get past them. The night, the hard times. He IS there!
I have found that if we don’t share our dark times with others, they might think that we never have any trouble and therefore won’t understand their problems. So they keep their troubles to themselves. It is sad.
Christina Suzann Nelson
No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.
Amen Karen! How true! I was so close to finishing my second manuscript edit and was challenged with a cancer flare up. I am taking a break from writing to work on “cured.” My trust is in God and His perfect timing. He never lets me down! Each lesson learned makes me a better writer.
You have really blessed me with this post. Thank you for your honest reminder of why we write and how God can use every episode of our lives to make us fruitful.
Friends, I read over your comments again today and was so blessed by them. Thanks for being…well, yourselves.
God bless you today.
Thank you. I wrote last night on my own blog about crying Uncle. I’m done this year. Can’t take anything else. And yet, I must remember the bigger thing He is doing in me and will do through me.