A more common word for it is discouragement. It's a nasty word and an even nastier reality. But it happens. We have days when things overwhelm us, when bad news brings us low, when we wonder if God really has given us this task, this ministry of writing. And if He has, why doesn't he let a few others in on the secret?
I had one of those days this week. I'd been fighting it for some time, ever since learning that the treatments I'll have to undergo for cancer may be more extensive than originally thought. That could mean I'll have to cancel a trip to the arctic that has been planned for over a year. Then I got an email from my publisher telling me my next novel may not be published after all. And an attempt to solicit help from friends to promote my ebook was a dismal failure. A phone call from my sister who is watching our mother die in a town on the other side of the country left me on the edge. All of this has left me feeling tired and unwilling to keep trying to roll that huge ball of life uphill.
Discouragement. It can lead to frustration and frustration to anger and anger to lack of faith. It was my husband who reminded me of this. I guess he was seeing the signs. He reminded me that my worth is not dependant on selling millions of books. He reminded me that success does not rest on being on the best sellers list. He reminded me about some of the changes in people's lives because they've read my novel. He reminded me that joy does not rely on the circumstances around me but comes from knowing I am loved by a God who gave his own life for mine.
That lifted my head, made me look up again and realize that God is here, with me. He's the one who gave the ball a mighty heave to get it moving in the first place and I know he's not going to abandon me or let it roll back on top of me. A friend sent me this scripture yesterday. It helped lift my head up too.
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed" (2 Corinthians 4:8).
And then there's this one - "I lift my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip - he who watches over you will not slumber" (Psalm 121 - 1-3).
So I am lifting my eyes to see the gifts of God around me - the burgeoning green of spring; the deep red of geraniums in my living room that just won't quit blooming; the hugs and prayers of friends who just won't quit encouraging me. And I am thankful.
Addendum - since writing this post awhile ago, I've had some great encouragements - my doctor agreed to scehdule the cancer treatments so that I can make that trip to Baffin Island, and then I learned that my work has been shortlisted in two categories of The Word Guild contest. My husband and I attended a church conference during which I was overwhelmed with the well-wishes, love and promises of prayer that flowed out to me the whole weekend.
There are days of discouragement, but then, praise God, there are those other days.
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone and also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. The sequel to One Smooth Stone will be released in 2011. A collection of devotionals for writers has just been released here. Visit Marcia's website