by Phyllis Keels
I used to have a hard time causing my main characters to go through hardship, suffering, or even to allow them to experience conflict or pain. That was before I understood its purpose. That was before I personally understood its purpose.
Suffering is not pleasant and we usually avoid it at all costs, but sometimes it finds us, and we are in it before we can blink. After we’ve experienced it, we can see a little more clearly what it really does for us, and maybe why we must go through it.
If you have suffering, if you are heartbroken, did you know that you are blessed? Did you know that you are chosen? You are.
In fiction, writers cause the most awful things to happen to their heroes, heroines, and to many of their supporting characters. That’s not because they want to. It’s for two other reasons.
1) Good writers love their characters
2) Good writers want their characters to become heroes and heroines
These two reasons are really the same reason. We bring suffering into our character’s lives so that they can have a chance to become who they are meant to be. So the reader will know what the characters are made of.
My favorite characters are ones who go through terrible hardships and loss, and still remain faithful and overcome. They are noble and brave. They are compassionate even when they are in crisis, and they are steadfast in their love of God.
I don’t think they are born that way. They have to become that way. How will that happen without the catalyst of suffering?
As a writer, I often don’t know the suffering that is around the corner for my characters. It just happens, or they walk into it. I know the way the story will end, but I allow the characters to weave their way through it. Almost, to make their own choices…
It hurts me to see them go through hardship, but I know it is necessary. Without it they would never become who they are meant to be. Without it they have no opportunity to perform heroic acts or become the legends that future generations learn from. They would never have a chance to defeat the evil that threatens them.
I cause my characters to go through these kinds of things, not because I don’t love them, but because I do love them. They are beloved characters. They are very dear to me.
If you are suffering, if your heart is broken, if you have hardship, it is not because God does not love you. It is because He does. He loves you with an everlasting love that can take any hardship and forge it into strength, hope, and real character.
His love will exchange the suffering for the oil of gladness, a crown of beauty, and a garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3, NIV). Your suffering, beloved one, because you are God’s beloved character.
Author Phyllis Keels teaches Bible study, and speaks in order to minister to grieving women. She uses every opportunity to proclaim God’s promise that He is indeed near to the brokenhearted. Owner of The Gifted Writer, LLC, Phyllis lives in Salisbury, NC, with her son and two really big dogs.