Life is often a struggle.Whatever your faith background, the reality is we don’t live in a particularly nice world and often we look for answers only to find they are more complicated than we originally thought.
As a Christian who also happens to be a writer, that raises some tough questions: how much of that pain and struggle do I write about, and in what way?
I recently sat down and wrote out some of my personal struggles, and what I realized is there’s simply a lot of things I don’t understand.
On one hand, I’ve get intellectual struggles, things I simply don’t understand about Christian theology. Can people only come to God through Jesus – and if so, what about the vast majority of humanity who existed before Jesus was born and weren’t Israelites? How can God be the loving god he says he is in Scripture and yet some of us are predestined to go to Heaven and others aren’t?
On the other hand, I have more personal doubts. I have a very hard time believing in complete reconciliation in Jesus – I want to believe in it, but I see many friends and acquaintances who come from abusive homes and even after becoming Christians they still have harsh emotional scars. They haven’t experienced full healing yet, and I don’t know if they ever will in this life.
These are all questions which I do not know the answers to. It is very possible that I never will know the answers, because in the last analysis God is much bigger and smarter than I am.
The important thing to remember though, is that just because you can’t see the answers doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t out there. I know it would be easy for me to do that – to write stories about dark, complicated issues and leave readers with no resolution. The hope isn’t just hard to see, it doesn’t exist in the first place. But that wouldn’t be true.
The truth (as pastor and novelist Frederic Buechner put it in his speech “Faith and Fiction”) is that even in the dark you have the power to whistle.
I recently read an interview with Dean Koontz, who’s known for writing dark thriller novels. Koontz is a devout Catholic, and when asked about why he writes so many stories, he said he includes darkness but never dwells on it. “Evil walks among us,” Koontz explained. “We don’t always see it. Each of us, in our daily lives, encounters evil; we are tempted to evil every day of our lives… We have to acknowledge it, face it and defeat it. That’s what each of my books is about.”
I’m hoping that I can do something similar with my work.