Comfort in Hard Places

Each year, Speak Up brings writers and speakers together, and each has a story to tell. Some of those stories are difficult. As a speaker and trauma therapist, who is also a trauma survivor, I am often asked three things by other survivors:

  • “Is telling your story to others difficult?” 
  • “Would you recommend that I write my story?”
  • “When is a good time to begin writing my story?”

My answers are, “yes,” “yes,” and “right now.” 

2 Corinthians 1:4 (NIV) tells us, [He] comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. I return to this verse often when writing and speaking become difficult. I’d like to break this into smaller bites to demonstrate the wisdom packed into this verse.

“He comforts us in all our troubles…”

We must first experience, process, and understand the comfort we receive from Jesus before we can offer that comfort to others. We learn about God’s comfort as we process our trauma and discover how God works through our pain. When I say the time to begin writing is right now, I am not suggesting that a person in crisis begins to write a book or speech. I am suggesting that you begin writing about your journey as it unfolds.

When my cold case was reopened, thirty-five years after the violent crime was committed, I began to experience pain and confusion like never before. I had not processed what happened to me as a young college student because it was easier to store the pain away and “forget” about it. 

The problem is, we never truly forget. 

When the wounds were reopened, I began to write immediately. I wasn’t writing for others. I was writing to process. I thought it might be cathartic to journal on black paper using a white pen because it seemed like these were the darkest pages of my life. Each day I wrote whatever was on my mind and, oftentimes, this was quite raw. 

After writing with authenticity and untamed emotion, I would read what I wrote and look for a theme. On some days the themes were difficult, like anger, justice, or terror. On other days the themes were comforting, such as healing, forgiveness, and gratitude. Whatever the theme was, I would then google, “Scripture on [theme].” Following my raw journal entry, I would write one or two verses that spoke to me in my journal.

“…so that we can comfort those in any trouble…”

What began as an exercise in survival became the most significant writing I would ever do. Journaling became a dialogue with God. Together we wrote a bright future onto those dark pages. 

A year later, as I read back through my journal, I could clearly see how he had navigated my healing journey and comforted me. Telling my story became easier once I had this roadmap to comforting and being comforted. After reading back over my journal, I felt compelled to write, speak, and tell everyone I knew about the healing power of Jesus Christ. My journal became a sort of outline for the message I would ultimately share through speaking and writing.

Journaling through pain is a powerful research tool for future writing. It gives us an accurate record of how God has worked in our own life, and it is from this knowledge we can begin to craft a message for others. 

A tough story without redemption is just a tough story, but sharing the love of Jesus and the song of redemption he has sung into our lives becomes a symphony of purpose that can absolutely comfort others “…with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Do you have a tough story to share with the world? If so, have you researched your own roadmap to healing? 

Question:  In what ways has God revealed his redemptive, healing power so that you can comfort others as he has comforted you?

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  1. Betsy Whitehead on 2022-09-13 at 11:35 PM

    I would love to be apart Of this conference.

    • Lisa Saruga on 2022-09-14 at 6:09 PM

      If you haven’t yet attended a conference, I highly recommend Speak Up. It is a powerful experience.

  2. Carol Kent on 2022-09-13 at 8:55 PM

    Lisa, thank you for writing such a powerful blog. So many people have hard stories and sometimes it’s difficult to know how to talk or write about their journey. Thank you for encouraging our Speak Up Tribe with such practical, biblical advice.

    • Lisa Saruga on 2022-09-14 at 6:08 PM

      Thank you for inviting me to share, Carol.

  3. Dyann Shepard on 2022-09-13 at 12:38 PM

    Thank you, Lisa. The timing of your post is perfect. I am currently working on a five day study guide to offer my readers on “What to do when your life falls apart.” Of course, it takes more than five days but I am praying this will help provide a framework for my readers to navigate the storms and stay tethered to Jesus. I am attaching an appendix of resources. May I use your article as a resource?

    For Sharon, I am praying for you. May God give you the courage, strength and comfort you need for this season.

    • Lisa Saruga on 2022-09-13 at 1:36 PM

      Absolutely. I would be honored to have this used as a resource. I pray your writing reaches the heart of many. As a trauma therapist, maybe I can one day use your study guide as a resource.

  4. Lisa Saruga on 2022-09-13 at 7:50 AM

    While attending Speak Up I discovered a key difference between journaling and writing a memoir. While both tell the same story, my journal was written for me. It was in internal accepting of God’s comfort. Memoir is written for the reader. It is an external sharing of that comfort. Writing to the felt need of the reader turns the story from the inside out. 😉

  5. Sharon D Dickie on 2022-09-13 at 6:39 AM

    I guess I write this because I don’t know where to begin the story. I feel like I’m going through the most traumatic storm of my life and some days I just don’t want to go on one more day.. I just feel like no one really understands except the Lord himself.

    My whole life I wanted to write a story in a book It’s been my life dream but I just can’t seem to get it together now with the most current storm in my life some days it takes all I can do to take one step and put my other foot in front of the other.
    But you sure are right about the comfort
    “ The “Comforter is the only one that can truly comfort me…

    • Lisa Saruga on 2022-09-13 at 11:05 AM

      Oh, Sharon. I am sorry you are in the midst of the storm right now. I pray that God will comfort you and that you will somehow capture the details of his story as you ride out the storm. Please PM me if you would like to talk more about journaling and dialoguing with God as your journey unfolds. I pray that God will provide the support system you need at this time.

    • Lori Mullen on 2022-09-13 at 12:01 PM

      Hi Sharon,
      I can truly relate to how you feel. Having said, my story is nearly twenty years ago. I would love to connect with you if you need someone to walk through you painful time will.
      Though I am a Life Coach, I am not getting compensated. I am more interested in writing and tellling my story in order to help others. Read my blog if you like.

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