Sunday, March 3, 2019

Writing From the Cave

by Audrey Frank @AudreyCFrank

I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble. (Psalm 142:1-2, A Maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.)

Some of the richest words in the world have been written from the caves of life.

John Bunyan wrote from the cave of a prison cell and gave us the gift of The Pilgrim’s Progress.

Amy Carmichael wrote from the cave of a sickbed and gave us the treasure Rose from Brier.

C.S. Lewis wrote from a cave of grief and loss and gave us the classic A Grief Observed.

Caves come to all of us at some point or another. Sometimes we flee into them; sometimes we are thrown into them. They are dark and have no light of their own. 

Writing is a lantern in the darkest of caves.

The future king of Israel understood this as he fled for his life, pretended to be insane, and hid in the cave of Adullam (see 1 Samuel 22). David was afraid, and he was alone, at least at first. Scholars believe he dwelled in the cave for three to six months. In the darkness, he managed to capture and declare the words that roiled and rioted in his terrified heart. Feral fear transformed into lucid light and David clearly saw the source of his hope and ours. The light of Psalm 142 shows us God yet today.

Psalm 142 starts out in agony and complaint, the place most of us begin when life throws suffering our way. Verse two, however, is the difference-maker. David’s first step is common; his second, however, is uncommon and revolutionary. Before dumping his misery before family and friends who would later gather around him in the cave, David brought his distress to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble.

The Hebrew word for tell here is gad, and its fuller meaning is to declare, to bring to light and profess openly. David is giving us a key every writer should have: the key of bringing to light what is hidden in the dark places of life. Didn’t God already know what David was feeling, what you and I are feeling in the dark? Yes, of course He did. But our God does not impose his audience upon us. Freedom comes when we unburden ourselves of our own accord, when we declare and profess openly what we have hidden away in the recesses of our souls’ anguish. Our God is a safe place, a refuge to whom we can tell it all. 

Pour out your complaint before the Lord; before Him tell your trouble. Your words will liberate you and one day, they will liberate others. For God is our refuge, our portion in the land of the living (verse 5).

Tell God first, tell people later.

David understood this. We as writers would do well to put it into practice, especially when our hearts are paralyzed with the difficulties and fears that would stop us from writing anything.

When we are in the caves of life, let us not curl up in against its imposing walls and be swallowed by the blackness, our words stymied and snuffed out. Instead, let us capture the words in all their terror and pour out our raw and honest prayers to God. Do not hold anything back from Him, for He is the one who knows your way. He is our refuge and our portion. He is the one who sets us free from our prisons. 

David reminded his soul of this in the cave of Adullam, and we were given the gift of Psalm 142.

What gift might you give others from your cave today? Take up your pen and write to your God, light bearer. Then you will have light to share with others.

Lord, let the words rise up in me to bring light even when I sit in darkness. Amen.


Audrey Frank is an author, speaker, and storyteller. The stories she shares are brave and true. They give voice to those whose words are silenced by shame, the hard things in life that don’t make sense, and the losses that leave us wondering if we will survive. Audrey and her family have spent over twenty years living and working among different cultures and world views, and she has found that God’s story of redemption spans every geography (geographical location)  and culture. He is the God of Instead, giving honor instead of shame, gladness instead of mourning, hope instead of despair. Although she has three different degrees in communication and intercultural studies, Audrey’s greatest credential is that she is known and loved by the One who made her.

Her upcoming book, From Shame to Honor, is an outpouring of Audrey’s heart to introduce others to the God of Instead. Shame is not unique to the developing world, the plight of the women behind veils, young girls trafficked across borders; shame is lurking in hearts everywhere. Through powerful stories from women around the world, From Shame to Honor illuminates the power of the Gospel to remove shame, giving honor instead. Look for it through Harvest House Publishers in the fall of 2018.


  1. Amen Ms. Audrey. We allow God's light to shine when we often write from the dark places in our life. I find, in hindsight, that He was there in the dark with me, guiding me with His light to find my path home to Him. Well said ma'am. God's blessings...

    1. It's so curious how we can feel completely blinded by the darkness, yet as you say, He is there with us all along. I think our faith opens our eyes; it doesn't change Him at all, but changes us. Thanks for the encouragment, Jim!

  2. Thank you for this good reminder, Audrey. It's hard to have perspective in the cave! But as you said, He knows all the anguish and difficulty, and will use it to help speak life to others in our writing.

    1. Although I have managed to express this anguish in words, I still get completely immobilized myself at times when I am in the cave. We all have to keep reminding each other that He brings light out of the dark places in life, and our writing is one of the best places to do that. Thanks, Wendy!

  3. What an interesting point that David & many others wrote from their caves and we all benefitted. When each of my parents died, I found writing a letter to them or to God alternately each day really helped let out the internal angst in a healing way. It never crossed my mind to use it as a springboard to helping others though. Thanks for some great insight. :)

    1. Wow, Chris. That is a poignant and beautiful picture of how you managed your grief. You might want to start right there, telling others how that brought light to you. Loss is one of the darkest caves, and takes a long time to find our way out. Thank you for sharing with me. Blessings in your writing.

  4. Our time in caves in never wasted. He brings light into darkness to redeem us and put value on the time we spent in the cave. Your beautiful words remind us that those experiences are tools we can learn from and also use to comfort others who are in a time of darkness in their life.

    1. Barbara you are an encourager! Thank you for reading and reaching out. I love your phrase, "put value on the time we spent in the cave." You captured it spot-on. Have a lovely day.