Here’s an excerpt from my newest book, Hope in the Dark: Believing God Is Good When Life Is Not. Used by permission from Zondervan.
Adrianne Manning is like family to me. She’s the most outgoing, gregarious, bubbly, and fun person I know. She has served in my office for many years now, and I love her and her family deeply.
One day years ago, she bounced into my office, beaming with excitement. Part dancing, part shouting, she could barely get the words out. She and her husband, Danny, were expecting. It was an answer to our prayers.
And hugged again.
But when she lost her baby, we did the exact same thing.
Only the emotions were so much different and deeper.
And hugged again.
As a pastor, I see so much loss. It’s never easy, especially when it affects someone very close to you. And we did what most everyone does. We asked God, “Why? Why did you allow this to happen?”
And that’s when I started writing Hope in the Dark: Believing God Is Good When Life Is Not. I wrote. Wrote. And wrote some more. And I didn’t tell anyone I was writing. Not my publisher. Not other staff members. Not my friends. I just wrote. With every word, I had Adrianne in mind. And not just Adrianne but everyone I knew who was going through hell on earth and didn’t understand why.
After I finished the first draft of the manuscript, I gave it to Adrianne to read. I explained that it was for her. She took the manuscript home and read the whole thing in one sitting. The next day, when she walked into the office, she didn’t speak. Instead . . .
And then we hugged again.
It was a long time before we talked about the loss of her child. And it was even longer before I told anyone about this manuscript. For years, it sat silently on my computer, stored in an obscure file, mostly forgotten. Then, years later—when I received some bad news about my daughter’s health—I decided to pull out that manuscript and look at it again, this time for myself. Oddly, the words I had written for Adrianne helped soothe my own soul.
After praying about it, I decided to show the manuscript to my publisher. Their editors felt the depth of my emotion in the words on the pages, and they believed that this message might be helpful to others.
So I dove back into the manuscript. I updated it some, expanded it. My new book, Hope in the Dark, is the result.
Just to be clear: this book is not for everyone. If you’re living the dream and you’re on a spiritual high, stop and praise God for his goodness. I celebrate with you. But, honestly, this book probably isn’t for you, at least not in this season of your life. This book is for those who are hurting. For those with doubts. For those afraid they may be losing faith. For those whose world has grown dark.
On the other hand, if life is closing in on you, if your faith feels stretched to the breaking point, then this book, these messages, and this Bible Plan, are for you. I hope you’ll have the courage to enter with me into some of the pain of this world. I hope you will understand why I wrote this with a more serious and reflective tone. I hope you will venture out to the edges with me and wrestle with some of the questions Christians are often afraid to ask. I hope you discover the depths and riches of God’s grace that only the valleys of life can reveal.
Hope in the Dark is first for my good friend, Adrianne.
But this book is also for anyone who is hurting and doesn’t understand why.