Isaiah 9:1a “Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever.”
Let’s stop there.
If you’re like me, you need this reminder. Life is marked by seasons and neither the good, the bad or the boring ones last forever. But the gloomy, sorrowful ones where you feel like you’re crawling on your elbows through a seemingly endless, dark tunnel, in mud, seem like the longest.
We mention this a lot around here, but journaling alongside reading your Bible is vital. It is your flashlight in the dark place. It is your sounding board in decision-making. It is where it all happens, people. You might read the verse I posted above and think to yourself “yeah, duh”. But when you’re at a job you hate, or being crushed by a blanket of depression, or at the beginning of 12 weeks of morning sickness, or surviving a divorce, or preparing to bury a loved one, or somehow a really awful combination of all of these things, you need more. You need more than a verse taken out of context of someone else’s story. You need to read your handwriting on your own paper, proving that the verse is true.
If you are not already doing this, here are a few places to start:
- Make lists. If you don’t like writing, this is for you. Keep a list of things you’re thankful for, things you’re praying about, answered prayers (even when the answer isn’t what you asked for), people you dislike, Bible verses you love, etc. (Note: I keep a list of things that make me laugh really hard in my phone and I look at it when I’m really overwhelmed and Bethany sleep-talking is on this list three separate times.) My brother credits a list of things that make him happy to getting him through a bout of depression in high school.
- Write down a high & low part and a moment you saw God every day. This is a good outline for longer entries and it also starts giving you a lens to see God’s presence in your life. Bonus: it’s a great way to start edifying conversation around the dinner table.
- VENT. My rule is to never write down anything I wouldn’t want someone to read (secrets, mean comments or the ending to episodes of Lost), but it’s a great alternative to slandering or harboring bitterness. I (have the best intentions of trying to) end my entries with prayer to keep it productive.
If you are already doing this, what works for you? What other suggestions do you have?
Reader, if you are in fear that your troubles will never end, take heart. Although God does not spare us from suffering, he leads us safely through it. Your writings will prove that to you and the more often it happens, the less convincing you’ll need that this is true.