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190 – The Writer’s Psalm, Part 2

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The Writer's Psalm Part 2 Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young

As we discussed in part one of the Writer’s Psalm, emotions are a natural, God-given part of life. But they also can lead us astray if we’re not careful. Especially when things on our writing journey don’t go the way we’d hoped or planned. So what do you do when you feel God has abandoned you? Come explore the rest of Psalm 42 to find out.

But first, thank you to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

In episode 189, part one on Psalm 42, which we’ve dubbed the writer’s psalm, we ended with the truth that emotions have a way of ebbing and flowing. How often have you felt down one day, thinking it’s time to hang up your keyboard, and the next you wonder why on earth you were so despondent?

No, it doesn’t mean you’re bipolar. It simply means you’re experiencing the normal emotional ebb and flow of being a writer. And just when we think we’ve dealt with those emotions, something else happens. As it did with David.  

“My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!” Psalm 42:4

There’s another of Satan’s tactics: encouraging us to focus on the rearview mirror. If you’ve been in publishing for a while, and especially if you experienced some success—success that seems far too long ago—the enemy loves to come whisper in your ear about how it used to be: 

“Remember how things were when you first started? How exciting it all was. How the newness of writing and being published had you waking to each day with anticipation? Even joy? How you felt so fulfilled? Well…all that’s gone now. So what was the point? You’ve wasted time and money that should have been used better…” 

This tactic is so very effective, isn’t it? Especially with the changes happening in publishing over the last several years. It often seems so much harder now. And many of us have lost contracts, or can’t seem to find someone who wants to give us a new contract. Or maybe we decide to go indie, but that, we discover, has its own big pile of difficulties. Why can’t it be like it was?

Oh, friends, remember how we’ve warned you against comparing yourself to others? Well, comparing where you are now to where you used to be, letting that comparison stir up a sense of defeat and discouragement, longing for what was doesn’t help with what is. Not. Ever. 

If you’re tempted to do that, go instead with the next several verses of Psalm 42 and say with David: 

“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!” Psalm 42:5 

Acknowledging who God is in the here and now is a powerful weapon against Satan’s lies. So please, every day, every time you feel the enemy tickling your ears and spirit, ask yourself one question. Because the answer will send the enemy and his forces scrambling away: 

Who is God to me?

Is he Elohim, the One and only true God? The Master Creator? No one is more trustworthy. No one else is Sovereign. There is no other God but him. 

Is he Jehovah-Rohi, the Lord my Shepherd? The One who watches over me, guarding me from all enemies? The one who fights to save me from predators like Satan? Whose staff will always guide and protect me?

Is he Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord my provider? The One who meets all my needs, no matter what they are? The One who has never let his own go hungry or be lost? The One who provided us with a way to escape sin and death?

Is he Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord my healer? God told Moses right out, “I am the Lord who heals you.” He will heal you on every front in his time, in his way. He will heal you of being downcast. Just keep your eyes and heart on him. 

Is he Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord my Banner? He is the Visible God who is seen in our lives. He is the sign to all, especially Satan, that we belong to him. As our banner, God lets everyone know HE is with us, our protection and shield, and they will try to do us harm at their own spiritual and eternal peril. Remember Isaiah 54:17: “No weapon formed against you shall succeed.”

Is he Jehovah-M’Kaddesh, the Lord my sanctifier? He makes me holy. I don’t do that. I can’t do that. But Jehovah-M’Kaddesh has already done it! He has given us his Holy Spirit for that very reason. How do you disperse being downcast? Come before him and ask for more holiness. Ask for the strength to see past what seems to be until your vision matches his for what is, and what will be in him!

Is he Jehovah-Shalom, the Lord my peace? Strong’s Concordance tells us that shalom means completeness, soundness, welfare. When the Lord is our peace, we are complete. We are sound in him, not to be shaken. Our welfare is in HIS hands. What better place could it be?

Is he Jehovah-Tsidkenu, the Lord Who Is Righteous? It’s frightening for many to even think of being attacked by Satan and his followers. But friends, there is no reason for fear! Not when we’re covered in the Lord’s holy righteousness. Not when Jehovah-Tsidkenu holds us in his righteous hands and his holiness is an impenetrable barrier between us and the ruler of this world. A ruler who is already defeated by God’s righteousness. 

Is he Jehovah-Shammah, the Lord who is there? Oh, how I love this one! My Lord is here. With me. Whether I feel it or not, whether my emotions recognize it or not, The God of the Universe is with me! He is near to you even now. He is ever present. You are never alone, friends. Never. 

Let’s pick up with Psalm 42 again, finishing verse 6:

“Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you—even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar.” Psalm 42:6

Here is such good news! Being downcast is temporary! When David says, “Now I am deeply discouraged,” he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say, “but I will remember you!”

Being downcast is a feeling, an emotion. And feelings or emotions change. They may last for a few hours or days, or even for a season. It’s only a matter of time until it passes. 

Keep in mind that emotions, even unwanted ones like being downcast, have significance and purpose. Otherwise why would God have given them to us? Having an underlying sense of sadness, of being downcast, can be a trigger for you to realize that something’s not quite right. It helps to explore the root of those emotions. When we understand what we’re feeling and why, we can take steps to feel better. 

For example, a few weeks ago I was moping around the house. Don, my hubby, asked me what was wrong. I looked at him and said, “I’m depressed.”

Now, I wasn’t talking about true depression. What I meant was I was feeling down. Like something just wasn’t quite right. We talked about it and I realized we’ve had far too many gray, rainy days lately.

Don and I have always turned off the lights if we’re not in a room. Why pay for electricity that isn’t needed? But I realized I was missing sunshine and light! So we agreed that when the days are gray, we’ll keep more lights on and pull the window blinds up to let in as much light as possible. Within a few days, I was back to being cheerful, laughing at the antics of the birds and squirrels in my yard, and savoring God’s goodness. 

Not all causes of being downcast are easy to discern. But ask God to open your eyes to why you’re feeling as you are. Sometimes, you can make changes to lift the gloom. Other times, you need to wait on God to release you from these emotions. Whatever the case, it is temporary! Sometimes it lasts for days. Sometimes it lasts for a season. But, it will pass. 

Don and I recently visited Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. On the ferry ride to the island, I was struck by the varying currents, swirls, and white caps on the surface of the waters of the Puget Sound. I couldn’t help but wonder what was beneath the waters that caused these different actions, some within feet of each other. Was there some obstacle down there? Or was it caused by some fish or whales or orcas? Or could it just be a difference in water temperature?

But here’s what I loved: Whatever the underlying cause, the ferry just kept gliding along the surface, not the least bit bothered by the various whirlpools, white caps, or whatever. That vessel was built to ride the surface and keep moving forward. 

Just remember times of being downcast are often based on how things seem to be. Or even worse, wondering what’s happening until you grow afraid that maybe…just maybe…God has left you on your own. But the reality is that while we may not know where God is leading us, or why, what we do know, without a doubt, is that he IS leading us. And these downcast feelings will pass in the light of his truth. 

David starts to understand that with the next verses…

“I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.” Psalm 42:7-8

In this moment, David’s soul isn’t downcast! It’s focused on God, on praising and worshiping Him. When you struggle, take hold of two of the most powerful tools in your arsenal: praise and worship. 

We’ve talked about praise and worship in other podcasts, but let’s review a few things here:

God is the only One worthy of true praise. And the praise we give God isn’t like praising someone for doing a good job. It’s not based on what we think of God. It’s based on WHO God is. 

Webster’s defines praise as a number of things—commending excellence, expressing approval, honoring others—but the praise due to God is different. In fact, that praise gets this definition from Webster’s: “The act of glorifying …God.” 

Here are a few of the definitions of glorify:

to make glorious : surround with glory : secure honor, praise, or admiration for 

to exalt to a state of glory  

to throw a resplendent light upon : make splendid with light. 

Resplendent. I love that word. It means lustrous. Shining with brilliant light. Imagine entering a darkened room, then someone turns on a number of large, sparkling chandeliers. I’ve seen that, and the glorious beauty of it is almost a shock. It takes your breath away, and then fills you with delight. 

Now think: How much more resplendent is God? How much more glorious? How much more worthy than any thing or any one of our praise and worship?

When you find yourself slipping into being downcast, jump instead into praise and worship just like these verses say:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians1:3-4

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Hebrews 13:15 NIV

Then there’s this blockbuster in Isaiah 25: 

“LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago… You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall and like the heat of the desert. You silence the uproar of foreigners (and critical readers and reviewers and naysayers!) as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is stilled.” Isaiah 25:1,4-5

Do you hear that? “The song of the ruthless.” We like to think the enemy’s voice will be easily recognized because it’s full of evil, but remember, Satan is the deceiver. He will seem to sing to you, to woo you with a refrain of all you deserve but aren’t getting. The ruthless one will sing condemnation with the voice of an angel and the words of trickery. Don’t be fooled!

Isaiah 25 goes on:

“On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. In that day they will say, ‘Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.’” Isaiah 25:6-9

Remember that old saying, “God said and I believe it!” God has said you are precious to him. Believe it! God has said he will never leave you or forsake you. Believe it! God has said he loves us so much he sent his beloved Son to die for us, to restore us to himself. Believe it.

Friends, if God has said you are a writer, then God has spoken. Believe it!!

But David’s downcast state isn’t over yet, because right on the heels of Psalm 42:7-8 comes verses 9-10:

“’O God my rock,’ I cry, ‘why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?’ Their taunts break my bones. They scoff, ‘Where is this God of yours?’”

See? Same old tactics. Mockery. Unrealized expectations. Taunting.

How often have you heard people say things like:

“If God is real, why is the world in such a mess?”

“Why are so many people starving and suffering?”

“Where is this God of yours when nations attack nations, slaughtering innocents.”

“If God is so great and so loving, why did the person I love die an agonizing death?” 

“If God cares about me, why do I have cancer?”

Let’s face it, there are a lot of reasons to doubt God exists. Lots of reasons for people to mock us and our faith. Lots of reasons to doubt God and us. 

The enemy takes advantage of the most punishing reasons to derail us from doing whatever task God has given us. Good night! Satan doesn’t want us doing God’s work! He doesn’t want us ignoring him and just trusting God. 

Satan is so determined to get us downcast that he uses those around us, even those who know us best, to mock and taunt and undermine us in doing the work God has given us. Because when we fall prey to all that, when we become downcast, we can’t see what God’s doing. 

Or maybe it’s more that we aren’t looking for what God is doing. All the hard, negative things are so much more obvious. But God? So often he works in the background. Even in silence. Which seems so counter-intuitive to us. With all his power, all his glory, why isn’t everyone aware of what he’s doing?

Remember when Moses went up on the mountain to meet with God? How did God speak to him? In a still small voice. You see, that’s the thing with true power. It doesn’t have to blare its existence. It just is. God’s power is there, and it’s working for the good of all his children. For you. 

As we come to the end of Psalm 42, it seems David has learned that as soon as he heads back into being downcast, here comes the solution: truth!

“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God! My Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:11 

Say those words out loud! My Savior and my God.

Our hope is in him. Our joy and fulfillment and peace and wonder…everything we need and could ever want is all in HIM. 

Psalm 146 is the the perfect response, to that truth: 

“Praise the Lord! Let all that I am praise the Lord. I will praise the Lord as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath. Don’t put your confidence in powerful people (publishers, editors, reviewers, sales teams, marketers, producers…none of them deserve your confidence. ONLY God does); there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them. But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever. He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The Lord frees the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. The Lord loves the godly…The Lord will reign forever. He will be your God…throughout the generations. Praise the Lord!”

Feeling down? Let the Writer’s Psalm lift your spirits! #amwriting #christianwriter Click To Tweet

In what ways does David’s psalm inspire you as a writer?


Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

A huge thank you to our May sponsor of the month, Priscilla Sharrow! She’s working on her memoir called Bonked! Life, Love, and Laughter with Traumatic Brain Injury, which will release with Redemption Press. Learn more about Priscilla at her website priscillasharrow.com and follow her blog for the TBI/PTSD community.

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast P.S. for their fabulous sound editing!


Want the latest news from Karen and Erin? Click here to join our newsletter and get an exclusive audio download.


189 – The Writer’s Psalm, Part 1

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The Writer's Psalm, Part 1 Write from the Deep Podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungEmotions are a normal part of being human. What’s more, they are God given. As writers, we certainly have our share of emotional highs and lows. But what do we do when our feelings drag us waaay down? When our careers seem stalled or over, when our efforts seem wasted, and we find ourselves spiraling deeper into darkness? Well! Have we got a psalm for you!

But first, thank you to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

As creatives, writers tend to feel things deeply. Good things, troublesome things, hard things…we can become immersed in the emotions fueled by what’s happening around us. When our careers are going well, we’re on top of the world. When they’re not, well, it’s easy to get down. We even start to doubt whether we’re supposed to be writing at all.

Of course, those emotions change when something good happens, but what if that good thing doesn’t happen? If it seems we’re stuck in a place where nothing, to our way of thinking, is going right. Too often the enemy sneaks in at that point to whisper lies to our writer’s heart: 

This is going nowhere. 

No matter what you do, your books will never be bestsellers. 

You’re wasting time and money. 

On and on the lies go, feeding our emotions until we spiral deeper and deeper. Friends, that is NOT the deep God wants for you! 

Is it okay for Christians to feel down?

You may be reading this and thinking something along the lines of, “But, we’re believers! We shouldn’t ever be down!”

I hate to break it to you, but being believers doesn’t mean we’re not human. Nor does it mean we’re perfect. Far from it. Believing in Christ doesn’t keep us from feeling. Nor should it! God made us in His image, and those feelings He gave us are a reflection of His feelings. 

 Of course we’ll feel down at times! For so many reasons: Loss, loved ones who don’t know God, disappointment in our careers, expectations that don’t materialize… There is no shortage of difficulties in this life. 

 A writer friend of Karen’s was SO excited that her debut novel was coming out with a major Christian publisher. She’d done everything right, and everyone at the publishing house, from folks in editorial to marketing to sales, were just as excited as she was. Her release day dawned, and she was on the computer doing all the things she’d been told to do…

Then the world went upside down. Two planes came out of nowhere and crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. And just like that, no one cared that her book was releasing. No one cared about anything but the attack on America. Her much anticipated book faded into the background, and eventually went out of print with very few sales. 

Is it wrong that this happened to her? No, it was simply life. Life in a broken, sin-soaked world where hatred runs rampant. But you can understand how a writer in this situation would be downcast. 

Of course, that’s an extreme example of broken expectations. But we share it to say that sadness, sorrow, even just feeling blue are all a part of the human experience. And we, as writers, tend to feel those things to our core. 

In her online article, “7 Ways Christians Can Beat the Blues,” Lisa Appello points out that some of the biblical giants of faith struggled with those emotional downward spirals. She writes:

“The Bible calls this being downcast, and it’s an emotion that even some of the stoutest of faith dealt with. David often felt downcast and it’s reflected in many of the Psalms he penned. Elijah, following an incredible mountain-top experience of God’s power, hit bottom as he hid from his oppressor. Jeremiah, discouraged by isolation and constant opposition, felt so down that he cursed the day he was born.”

Now that’s as downcast as you can get!

A Crosswalk.com article by Debbie McDaniel points out that even Jesus knew what it was to be downcast. She writes, “Isaiah prophesied that Christ would be ‘a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.'”

What does it mean to be downcast?

How do we define being down or downcast? Webster’s helps us gain a fuller understanding by defining it as being “low in spirit.”

I don’t know about you, but that definition sparked a lot of thoughts for me. So we’ll come back to that in a minute. 

First, let’s also consider a few of the synonyms Webster’s gives for downcast: “dispirited, dejected, disconsolate, woebegone.”

In addition, Webster’s explains that all of the words, including downcast, suggest a lack of “cheer, confidence, and hope, perhaps accompanied by shame or chagrin.”

Wow! Webster’s is always helpful, but in this instance, it’s perfect. Because this definition, and these synonyms, help us understand why our emotions get caught up in a downward spiral. What’s more, they give us insight into dealing with this emotional spiral. 

It’s About the Spirit

Remember Webster’s definition: “low in spirits”? And the synonym “dispirited”? When I read that, I sat back and thought, “Whoa. That can be the cause and the cure!” For believers, it’s being low in the Holy Spirit. Or as though the Holy Spirit has been displaced by whatever is fueling our sadness. 

You’re Not Alone

Charles Spurgeon went in and out of feeling depressed. He once wrote, “Fits of depression come over most of us. Usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous and the joyous not always happy.”

And, of course, there’s David. Now there was a creative. A singer, musician, writer, and poet. His heart was tender toward God. And yet that same heart that made him a “man after God’s own heart” led him to feel down when things were hard. Or, as we said earlier, downcast. This, friends, is where Psalm 42 comes in.


When you heard in the introduction that this particular psalm was dubbed “The Writers’ Psalm,” I bet you wondered who did the dubbing. True confession time: Karen did. I happened to read this psalm right after our podcast with Lori Ann Wood (episodes 187 and 188). We’d been talking about writers’ struggles, and I was amazed at the way Psalm 42 acknowledged the struggles and then, as only God-inspired writing can do, gave us the solution to the struggle.

When you’re downcast or dispirited, when you’re low in the Holy Spirit, do what we’re going to do now: explore and follow David’s lead in Psalm 42.  

“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?” Psalm 42:1-2

 At first glance, it might seem that David is praising God or acknowledging his need for God. But when read in the context of the whole Psalm, you can see that this beginning is one of desperation. As though David is at the end of himself and has nowhere else to go. He’s crying out to God. “I need you, Lord, as much as I need water.”

We can survive for as long as twenty-one days without food. We can live even longer without things like shelter. But water? Three days max. After three days without water, you’re done. 

David knew he was in a bad place, and he cried out to God. When your heart and mood seem to be sinking, or if you realize you’re full-on downcast, call out like David did. Tell God how you long for him, how you thirst for Him and His spirit. Seek Him and Him alone. Not sales numbers, not Amazon rankings. Focus only on Him and His holy spirit. 

I confess I almost laughed when I read verse 2: “Where can I go and stand before Him?” 

David KNOWS where to stand before God: wherever he is. So I think this gives us a glimpse into just how lost he felt, how he feared he would no longer have God’s blessing and presence. 

If you struggle with these kinds of feelings, counter them with God’s truth, especially this truth expressed all throughout both the New and Old Testament: God will never leave you nor forsake you.

 “…be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'” Hebrews 13:5-6

When you start feeling down, seek God. Right where you are. 

David goes even deeper into his woes in verse 3:

“Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, ‘Where is this God of yours?’”

One of the enemy’s most effective tools against us is mockery. And questioning God:

If, indeed, He gave you the task to write, then why aren’t your books on the bestseller list?

Why isn’t your name a household word?

Where are the movies made from your God-given stories?

The good news is that this tactic of Satan’s is hardly new, as you see from the psalm. The moment mockery comes, go on the counter offensive. Attack the enemy with prayer and Scripture. Praise God. Sing to Him. Acknowledge His presence and power and close your ears and spirit to the enemy’s old and tired strategy. 

These solutions we’ve explored so far can lift your spirt from being downcast into the healing and encouragement of God’s truth and light. They are there, ready and waiting for you to use them, to stop the enemy cold. But our psalm doesn’t end here. Emotions have a way ebbing and flowing, and just when we think we’ve dealt with them, something else happens. As it did with David…

We’ll talk about that in the next episode, so stay tuned!

As writers, we certainly have our share of emotional highs and lows. But what do we do when our feelings drag us waaay down? Well! Have we got a psalm for you! #amwriting #christianwriter Click To Tweet

What do you do when you feel downcast?


Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

A huge thank you to our May sponsor of the month, Priscilla Sharrow! She’s working on her memoir called Bonked! Life, Love, and Laughter with Traumatic Brain Injury, which will release with Redemption Press. Learn more about Priscilla at her website priscillasharrow.com and follow her blog for the TBI/PTSD community.

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast P.S. for their fabulous sound editing!


Want the latest news from Karen and Erin? Click here to join our newsletter and get an exclusive audio download.

188 – Detours on Your Writing Journey with Guest Lori Ann Wood, Part 2

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Detours on Your Writing Journey with Guest Lori Ann Wood Part 2 write from the Deep Podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungWhat do you do when your planned-out writing journey suddenly goes off the rails? Guest Lori Ann Wood faced this very situation. Through her God-ordained detour, she discovered three key questions that will help you in your own detours.

About Lori Ann Wood

Lori Ann Wood lives in an empty nest in beautiful Bentonville, Arkansas, with her husband, the love of her life whom she found in 9th grade. She currently serves as WomenHeart Champion Community Educator for Arkansas and American Heart Association Ambassador. Lori Ann was awarded the Frederick Buecher Narrative Essay Award, and her work has been published in numerous print and online venues. Having discovered a serious heart condition almost too late, Lori Ann writers to encourage others to ask their difficult faith questions along the detour of life. Lori Ann’s first book, Divine Detour: The Path You’d Never Choose Can Lead to the Faith You’ve Always Wanted, released with CrossRiver Media in February 2023.

Thanks to our sponsors on Patreon, we’re able to offer an edited transcript of the podcast!

Erin: Welcome, listeners, into the deep with us. We’re excited to have you, and we have a guest. We’re continuing our interview with Lori Ann Wood, and we’re talking about life’s unexpected detours and the deep questions that we have for God. We’re going to jump right in!

Lori: I think these are the questions that, maybe, they nag at everybody all the time. But when you get put on a detour, when you get shoved off on this road you don’t want to be on that’s kind of rough and out of the way, and you didn’t like it, and you didn’t choose it, that’s when those questions demand to be paid attention to. 

Erin: Yeah. 

Lori: That’s how my questions came about, and the questions were all derived from those temptations that Jesus faced in the desert.

Erin: Right. I like your first question. It’s a question of worry, you call it. “Is this life all there is?” 

How do you think that worked in your life? How did you answer that for yourself and how did that apply to your writing journey? 

Lori: I think if I were to look at all the questions as a whole, what’s true for all of them is that at some point I realized I didn’t necessarily want to know what the answer was. But I wanted permission to ask the question. 

I felt like I was at a point in my faith where I was almost embarrassed to be asking some really basic questions like that, but I needed permission to ask them. You know, I think about Job in the Bible. I don’t know that he necessarily wanted the answers, but he needed to ask the questions. That’s what I’m trying to pull up in the book. 

It’s just going deep and asking the questions, because when you’re asking the questions, you’re still communing with God. You’re still conversing with him. I think that was always meant to be the idea. 

For that first group of questions that you were talking about, that question of worry, “Is this life all there is?”, I looked at issues like loss, uncertainty, fear, and regret. 

Because we could get to a place when we’re on this detour where we don’t know, should I be just focused on my physical self? Should I be focused on, in writing terms, building my platform? Should that consume all of my day? Should I just be looking at the temporal part of whatever it is we’re doing? 

I explored that from different ways, but in terms of writing, I had to really look at the value that I was putting out there in terms of what was valuable in this life and what would be valuable to people on the other side.

So that question of worry, of “Is this life all there is?”, I had to struggle with it and really come back and answer it over and over again. 

Erin: That makes sense. I love the second question, too. The question of doubt. “Is God always good?” I think that’s an easy one for writers to struggle with in terms of, you know, when bad things happen. I can imagine you sitting there dealing with heart failure wondering, “Is God really always good?” 

Lori: Yeah. This one I think is just really one of the top questions. I think if you Googled the top questions of faith, this is probably going to be at the top of every list. Is God always good? 

You know, I was following God. He had been walking lockstep with me. I thought we were on the same page, and now I find myself on this detour and I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t know if God’s left the scene. I don’t know if he has all of a sudden gone deaf to my prayers, or if I’m doing something wrong. 

We start to question if our current pain or our current position somehow indicates God’s level of care for us. Because it doesn’t feel like love sometimes. Just as human beings we’re like, “Wait, this doesn’t quite feel right.”

So we struggle with the question: Is God always good? In the book, I looked at things like protection and resilience and vulnerability and idols, and wondering how that plays into our faith and how we move that forward. 

In terms of writing, one of the things I was doing early on, and I didn’t realize it at the time, because in my heart failure journey, my heart function was really low, and then sixteen months in my heart jumped up to almost normal. 

Erin: Wow. 

Lori: It surprised everybody almost as much as the initial diagnosis. But it wasn’t permanent. What happens when you’re in heart failure is you’re on this downward line graph. When you’re on that downward graph, you can have some spikes up, but the general direction is still down. I was experiencing one of those spikes, but I thought that spike up was the end of my story. I thought, “Okay. Beginning. End. I get it.”

Then about three years ago, my heart function dropped quite a bit, and I was in active heart failure again. I, at that point, wanted to honestly protect God a little bit. I wasn’t sure what to write because I had been writing about answered prayer and healing. Then I thought, “Wow, how do I do this now? How do I reconcile what’s going on with my writing because I don’t know how this is gonna end.”

That was a hard one. In that question of doubt, as a writer, I had to really look at how do I move forward. That’s when these questions really came into focus for me. Because the only way to move forward is to be honest and say, “I don’t know how it’s gonna end.”

I also had to know at some point that God is always going to be good, and it doesn’t have anything to do with how much our life matches what we had imagined our life would look like. 

Karen: I think that that’s an important aspect of this, what you’re talking about with what we imagined life would be. I never imagined that at sixty-five I’d be pretty much incapacitated by diabetes, that I’d be incapacitated by interstitial lung disease, which is ultimately what will kill me.

It never occurred to me in those early years and in my faith with God that these things were where my journey would take me. But the cool thing is when you stop and balance your expectations with God’s character. We miss God’s character when we’re so focused on our expectations. 

I’m not saying don’t ask the question. I’m not saying, you know, don’t struggle with the question. I understand. 

Personally, I didn’t struggle with it because I had come to a place long before where whether I live, I am the Lord’s, or whether I die, I am the Lord’s. Whether I live, therefore, or die, I am the Lord’s. There was such a confidence in that. But I’m a very simplistic believer. I take God at his word in a simplistic way. 

People who struggle and come in and need to know the theology and all those kinds of things, I admire that. But I don’t want that. I like being able to just say, “Okay, Lord, I received that and I’m walking in that.”

I’m in prayer all the time. Conversing with him all the time, which doesn’t mean I’m any better than anybody else. That’s just my path. There have been times when I’ve struggled in my marriage. I couldn’t figure out why I married the man I did when there were so many issues, so many problems. Why we never had kids. There were struggles. 

But in the midst of all that, God led me, and he will lead each of us to look then and say, “Okay, here are my expectations of what my life was gonna be.” 

Don and I were in counseling for twenty years, and about halfway through we decided our mantra was, “God is in control. I don’t like it. I don’t want to be on this path. But he’s in control, and I trust that.”

The other thing that we always used to say is, “This is not the cruise I signed on for.” 

I fully expected to have children and grandchildren and all those things. That didn’t happen because of Don’s childhood, and the abuse he suffered. But I don’t think that that was God not being good or kind. 

I had a really honest, blunt friend who told me one day when I was talking with him and bemoaning the fact that I’d lost so much by marrying Don. He looked at me and he said, “What if you marrying Don isn’t about you? What if it’s about Don? What if God has given you this wounded, devastated heart to present whole to him as best you can by loving him?”

My initial godly response was, “So, not even my pain is about me? Really?” 

Lori: Oh, that’s so true. I can relate to what you said because my husband, faith has always come really easy for him. He’s a complete truster. When I was first in the hospital, he’s a runner, and he finally went for his run after I’d been in the hospital for a week. 

He came back in and he said, “Felt so good. I finally talked to God again, and I’ve realized that even if you don’t get better, everything’s gonna be okay.” 

I didn’t take it very well. 

Karen: He’s a really empathetic, sensitive sort, isn’t he? 

Lori: But he was there. I got there eventually, but he was usually way ahead of me. My dad, who passed away in 2020 from lung cancer, and I are similar. We both come to faith by this questioning. By questioning, we may not get the answer, but we are grabbing out for God’s hand and pulling him in. All the time. 

Erin: Right. 

Lori: I think people do that in different ways, but that’s the beauty of it. We don’t have to be the same. 

Erin: Karen, you touched a little bit on what’s going on with Lori Ann’s third question here. The question of control: Is God’s plan enough? 

I especially love this for writers because we have our own expectations of what our writing is going to do for the world and accomplish. So, you know, is God’s plan enough? What if his plan is not the same as ours? How did you deal with that question or come about that?

Lori: That question of control is hard, and maybe it’s harder for people like me that question all the time. Because I like to know what’s ahead. I like to know what the plan is. And this writing thing, it’s not for planners, is it? 

Karen: Yeah, if you go into it thinking you will have any control whatsoever, you are deceived.

Lori: Right? My book is launching this week and the most helpless thing is wanting people to review the book and just sitting there and watching. Are they gonna review it? Will they ever review it? Because there’s not one thing you can do about it. You can’t buy it. You can’t do it yourself. 

I had to really struggle with how to even present the book because I wanted it to be not really about my medical events. Those are woven into it, but I wanted it to be for other people who were on a detour who needed to ask the question.

That was something that at some point in my life, and I think it was at a writer’s conference when I got some feedback and realized, “I don’t think I can just write a straight memoir. I don’t think that’s going to resonate. It’s not going to get out enough to people and do what God wants it to do in that form.”

I had to kind of go back to the drawing board and that’s when those sticky notes started moving around. 

Karen: You know, it’s really great because you can take each of these questions and you can do big picture about life. But then as writers, we can take them and utilize each one of them for our writing.

Is this all there is in my writing? Question of worry. What if my book doesn’t sell the way I want it to? What if I don’t reach many people? What if, what if, what if?

The question of doubt: Is God always good to me as a writer? If I’m not getting contracts, then God’s not being good. Again, you’re contrasting your expectations with his character.

Then the question of control: Is God’s plan for my writing enough? What if only one, and we’ve said this before, what if only one person reads it and that person’s life has changed? Is that good enough for you if that’s God’s intent for you as a writer? 

Erin: Right. I think that last question about God’s plan being enough, that speaks to people who may be having regrets about this, that, or the other thing. I have a friend who’s struggling with their career. They’ve been in their career for over twenty years and they feel disillusioned. Even bitter, even upset, even filled with regret of wasting their life. I just want to say, “But what if that was God’s plan? Is God’s plan enough?”

It’s a very difficult thing to dig our way out of when we have those types of regret. But that’s where we go back to, well, was it the detour? Was it the plan? What was happening there? 

Lori: Yes, and I think we sort of get our mind twisted around because we’re so driven now by numbers. How many followers do I have? How many people are on my email list? 

That seems like that’s where our worth is. But you know, we can know from just getting one email, or one response, or one comment from somebody who was really struggling with something. Those little glimpses where you’re like, “If that’s all I ever get, that’s gonna be enough.”

We see that from time to time and get these little flickers. But it’s so easy to just get caught in, you know, how many reviews am I getting? How many copies am I going to sell? How many people are on my email list? I’ve learned, and it was a hard lesson, but I’ve learned that my plan has never been anywhere close to as good as God’s plan.

Erin: Well, that’s fair. 

Karen: It is fair. And it’s necessary because, I mean, we did a whole podcast on understanding that success is measured by obedience. Not by numbers, not by sales numbers, not by reviews, not by any of that. Our success as children of God who’ve been given the task to write is measured by our obedience.

Have I been obedient? That’s the only thing that we have any control over, whether or not we’re being obedient to that task. God has everything else in hand. 

All these questions that you’ve been asking and what you’ve shared with us, it’s all so important for each of us to take the time and to take the courage, because it does take courage to ask those hard questions, to dig deeper into ourselves.

If you are feeling, as you listen to this podcast, if you’re struggling with a sense of disillusionment, with a thought like something that you have on your website, Lori Ann, which I really like: “Why trust a God who disappoints?” Then you have to go back when you’re facing that question and ask yourself, “But did God disappoint? Or were your expectations other than what God wanted you to do?”

It always comes back to, when we start to doubt God, we’ve got to make those hard studies and come to a point where we recognize that God is God, and we are His creation. You have to keep that in mind because he is using each one of us to save others. What more can we want than that?

Asking these questions and digging deep into: Is that all there is? Is God always good? Is God’s plan enough? Friends out there, I encourage you. Dig into those. Check out Lori Ann’s book, check out her story, and then consider your own journey. Your life journey, your writing journey, and consider who gave you the task that you have.

Who is he? Is God who he says he is? For me that answer is quite clearly, he absolutely is. And he will do what he will do. So ask yourself, what is my answer to that? 

Erin: Amen. 

Guest @lori_ann_wood has discovered three key questions that will help you when your writing journey and life seem to go off the rails. #amwriting #ChristianWriter Click To Tweet

Divine Detour: The Path You’d Never Choose Can Lead to the Faith You’ve Always Wanted by Lori Ann Wood

Divine Detour by Lori Ann Wood


What difficult questions do you have for God?


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