Sometimes, there is so much brokenness in the world, it’s hard to see the light. I get overwhelmed by the sadness and heartbreak and downright evil in the world. Just this morning, I was notified that a young father of two in my circle succumbed to incurable brain cancer, while two weeks ago a 13 year old boy from nearby did the same. An author that I admire greatly just lost her son last weekend in a tragic accident where he was struck by a vehicle. A teacher died on her way to school. A mother had an asthma attack that ended her life.
School shootings, car accidents, war and atrocities, cancer, cruelty, natural disasters and more. All of it threatens to wear me down and wash away my hope.
My God turns my darkness into light. Psalm 18:28b
When I’m surrounded by darkness and hurt, I funnel that into my writing. Which means, sometimes my characters walk through some pretty hard stuff. But one of the reasons I love Christian fiction (and romance in particular) is the ability of the story where I find escape and entertainment to also point me toward the God that I cling to.
“We have this (hope) as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain…” Hebrews 6:19
Hope in God’s promises is a “sure and steadfast anchor of the soul”. Inevitably, as I write the story of a character facing the dark — I seek the Light and help my character find it too. While nothing is a substitute for reading God’s inspired word in the Bible, reading stories that also point me toward God’s promises are such an important part of my life. They encourage me, strengthen me, teach me, and (sometimes!) convict me.
And that’s exactly what I strive to do with my stories for others.
I’ll never forget one of the most heartbreaking messages I have received from a reader. She said:
Your books got me through the first wave of flashbacks (after my trauma). Whenever I get stuck in my (anxiety and depression) loop, I read your Minden books… I’m alive and your writing helped me get through the dark places. Even if it helped only me, I hope you feel like it was worth it.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve teared up reading her messages in the three years since she first reached out. Not because of the kind things she went on to say about my books, but because of the darkness she experienced and the knowledge that God used my words to help her see the light through the dark and remind her of the anchor she could cling to. It was (and remains) incredibly humbling.
Another note I got said this:
I am going through cancer treatments with my husband, he just had his third surgery to remove more cancer from his brain. We know GOD has guided us through this whole journey and don’t know the outcome of it. I just finished (Longing for Lily), I have no words on how much it helped me.
This reader was 100% grounded in her faith and God’s promises of eternity, but my books spoke to her in the midst of an uncertain journey.
I could go on, sharing examples from other authors or books, or times when my own faith was strengthened because of the faith of a fictional character. But, instead, I’d like to hear from you.
If you can think of an author or book that helped you through a dark time, share what you’re comfortable with below. Even better — take a moment to go to that author’s website and send them a quick note on the contact form letting them know the impact their words had.
And if you’re walking through a dark time, pick up God’s Word and lean into His promises. And then, maybe grab a novel from an InspyRomance author that will shine a little extra light as well.
We can always use a little more. Afterall, it’s dark out there.
Milla Holt says
What a beautiful post. You’re truly doing the work of 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”
not so much a dark time but Sincerely, Mayla by Virginia Smith gave me hope. she has a minor character that was single and a caregiver for her mother. When Mayla is visiting her grandmother she can see the manipulation of her daughter and helped her to see she could have a life. She had someone who loved her but being a caregiver made hard. She was old probably in her 40’s and it gave me hope there could be someone for me. I could so appreciate the manipulation and the way her mother would phase things to guilt her to do as she wanted. I had the same thing happen to me all the time. One time once mum got her way with something (me having to return a day early from a few nights away) She would say you say it really is the best way isn’t it or something to make it sound like it was the only real choice. Because I could identify with the character It also helped me see how i was getting manipulated but gave me hope that I could find someone. I did write to Virgina about the character. So while it wasn’t a dark time as such it was a situation you feel you don’t have freedom to just do things for yourself cos even if I was away for a few days I was expected to call in.
I honestly don’t remember a lot from 2021, as I spent that year experiencing all of the firsts after Mom’s passing. I do, however, know the books that I read, and that even in my grief, it was reading that helped me get me through. I read my Bible and I read 230 books. I told Mom God and my friends would get me through, and I should have told her books would get me through, too, as they did! I’ve heard of people saying they couldn’t read. I couldn’t NOT read! Books were a huge part of my coping mechanism. I reviewed each and every one I read on Goodreads and Bookbub, and some on other sites that weren’t indie published.
Debra Pruss says
Amen. Thank you so much, Tara for sharing. God bless you.
I so agree with what you say here, books have definitely got me through some difficult times, and books that are reminders of God’s love have been so important. Sometimes it’s just the little things – a character finding comfort in prayer or a favourite Bible verse encourages me to do the same. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me – I can remember reading this in one of Evangeline Kelly’s books when I really needed to hear it.
Thank you for sharing this today.
Bonnie Heringer says
Tara, your post stated things I feel about reading the stories you all write. I don’t have anything specific, but I only read clean Christian stories now because of how uplifting they are. I know God is with me at all times. I went through colon cancer 11 years ago and I felt the prayers of everyone who prayed for me. It is a blessing reading the books by all of you authors. And I am forever grateful for you all.
Thank you and may God bless you as you continue to write stories that bless others.
Hi Tara! Inspiring blog. Yes books help us through dark and trying times – disasters, health issues, death of family and friends and more. As a retired pastor’s wife, it has been difficult to find a new church home. My husband was a good shepherd to his folk and preacher. In my reading I am amazed at the spiritual insights of many Christian authors. Better than what I was hearing at some evangelical churches. Best wishes.
Janet Gilmour says
Thank you for your beautiful post! Besides reading Christian authors’ books who inspire me, I find a lot of comfort in the book of Psalms.
Lori Smanski says
I t really is so dark out there. That is why I am so glad to have Jesus in my heart and in my life. Right now I am going through a very tough time with my right knee. It is arthritic and almost bone on bon. Hard to walk and put weight on it. I have a doctors appointment on May 10th, but I know with my husbands help and close friends, I am covered until I see the doctor. For now, when I can stay awake, I have been reading rom coms and am so enjoying the laugh out loud. Reading these books is new for me and I am so enjoying them.
“On the cliffs of Foxglobe manor” by Jaime Jo Wright with its themes of suicide and depression of the protagonist it reminded me of a place where I was before.
I was moved how in the end the heroine finds happiness and stability in the midst of her circumstances.
“My Stubborn Heart” by Becky Wade that sometimes when you pray and pray to God to let someone go and not worry anymore and it doesn’t work out it’s because maybe you’re not supposed to let go and God plans to use you.
I have seen the opposite… when it is not God’s plan, people end up moving away from your life and you end up feeling that you should leave everything to HIM. And I don’t mean just romantic contexts but any relationship where there doesn’t seem to be much benefit in being there for the person and you just want to stop worrying.