Writing from Painful Places


By Marilyn Nutter

My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.

Psalm 119:71 NLT

Those words came from the testimony of a man at church one Sunday morning. John had just been released after spending five years in prison. In that time, he came to faith in Jesus Christ  As he continued speaking, he reaffirmed that we didn’t misunderstand, but yes, his suffering was used for good and he was thankful.

The definition of “good” is relative and overused. We say the weather is good for a picnic. Or “That was such a good meal.” But what does it mean when a person says, “It is good that I have suffered”?

John’s testimony went on to show there was benefit to his affliction. His life had changed through finding Jesus, and he had learned valuable lessons. In speaking to us, he wanted to share the goodness of his experience.

As writers, we can apply his lesson. If we have had a life-altering experience or a tough life season, can we find good in it to share? Not that our situation in itself was good or pleasant, was fixed, or a problem solved, but that our life change has been used by God for His good purposes. Is there a target audience who needs to read and be encouraged by your experience? How can you proceed?

  • Begin by identifying the pain point of your experience.
  • What are some of the lessons you learned? Were they spiritual, relational, professional?
  • What did you learn about God, His character, and His promises?
  • Did you grow, change, and move forward with purpose?
  • Can you write your story and maintain confidences?
  • Can you be real and practical?
  • Where can you submit a blogpost, article, compilation entry, or book?

As you develop your story, offer tips and resources for readers to see an opportunity to manage their experience. Perhaps you can offer particular Bible passages, biblical principles, suggested readings, websites, or support groups.

When Joseph was reunited with his brothers in Genesis 50:20, he told them, “You meant it for evil, but God intended it for good.” His time away from family and a prison sentence weren’t good, but his character grew, and God positioned him for a purpose. Our painful experiences include suffering and often an outcome we might not have wanted. Some problems don’t have solutions but they always have God who accompanies every step we take. That was the takeaway John wanted his audience to see. That is often the biggest takeaway we share in our writing. Perhaps there is a reader waiting to hear that from you.

Marilyn Nutter writes, not as a professional counselor or through research about grief, but as one who walks that unwelcomed, personal experience of widowhood and has found God faithful in every step. In her journey, she continues to experience the grace of God-sent treasures in puzzling and new circumstances and desires to encourage others. Her book, Hope for Widows: Reflections on Mourning, Living, and Change, was released by Our Daily Bread Publishing on Jan. 2, 2024. It offers 65 vignettes with opportunities for readers’ personal reflections. She is a contributor to compilations, author of devotional books and co-author with April White of Destination Hope: A Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart

Visit https://marilynnutter.com where you will find encouragement to weave hope and purpose into your life stories.

Here’s the Amazon link for her new book: https://tinyurl.com/2mu5becz


  1. Excellent suggestions, Marilyn. I've always found it difficult to write from a place of pain until after some time has passed - finding it just too raw - even in informal writing like journaling. I'm just wondering if the same is true of other writers...

  2. Thanks Candyce for your comment. Yes, it varies- sometimes we write from
    hindsight and see the path more clearly. That might include our contribution to the pain or situation and hopefully what God was teaching me. Marilyn


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