Surviving The Dark Tunnels of Life
When life is going well, I don’t always appreciate it. And when life feels dark, uncertain, and like whatever I’m going through will never end, I also don’t appreciate it.
If I’m honest, sometimes I let hopelessness and discouragement settle in. I get angry and impatient about the seemingly unfair circumstances I’m experiencing. If I had my way, I would rush through the dark tunnels of life! Hurry them along and get back to the good stuff, but what if there’s a whole lot of good stuff in the dark tunnels that I’m missing?
My husband and I have had the opportunity to travel around the world, which is a great way to expand your perspective on life! After my oldest son graduated from high school, we decided to take the family to Europe – a fabulous memory making adventure!
We invited our three children to participate in the planning of this trip, allowing them each to pick a country to visit. The plan was to visit the three cities they decided on: London, Rome, & Dusseldorf. We began our adventure in London, and while we were there, we spontaneously decided to add another city to the list and visit Paris.
Through A Tunnel
Almost 75% of 31.4 miles of the Channel Tunnel is under water! Since that trip, The Seikan Tunnel in Japan (33 miles) and the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland (35 miles) have exceeded the length of the Channel Tunnel, but the Channel Tunnel remains the longest segment under water.
Very early, while it was still dark, we boarded the Eurostar in London and made our way through the Channel Tunnel to France, arriving in Paris a little over two hours later. The idea of traveling almost 31 miles 250 feet below the water was mind-boggling to me! En route, my imagination conjured up the many “what ifs” that could happen. What if the train got stuck in the tunnel? Or what if the tunnel collapsed? What if the tunnel filled with water? None of these options excited me!
Comfortably seated on the train, we raced through the tunnel. The view outside the windows was complete darkness. If it weren’t for the darkness, I would have never known we were that we were in a tunnel. In reality, it wasn’t any different than plugging along outside the tunnel except the train slowed down from 186 mph to 100 mph for safety reasons.
Tunnels of Life
That train ride from London to Paris reminds me of my life! There are seasons where everything seems to be humming along – the pace is brisk, I’m in awe of what I’m able to see (and possibly pretend I am in control of) around me, and everything feels right.
Then suddenly I plunge into a “tunnel” and everything goes dark, nothing seems to make sense, and life feels disorienting and discouraging. Dark tunnels like a daughter battling a life-threatening condition for seven years, significant moves, or my own battle with Lyme disease. Or the entire world on lock down during the pandemic!
In The Darkness
In reality, in the midst of the darkness, I’m still on the track. Yes, it’s dark, and the pace has slowed down, and orienting myself is more challenging, but I’m still on the track! I think the biggest contributor to my discouragement is feeling cut off from all sense of connection and control. And even worse, it feels like God has abandoned me!
What I‘ve come to realize is that just because I am unable to see what God’s up to doesn’t mean that He isn’t creatively working on my behalf! In fact, He may be furiously orchestrating situations and events for my good in spite of the fact that I’m unable to see even a hint of what He’s up to. That’s real faith, right?
Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it. Hebrews 11:1
The world doesn’t stop turning just because you’ve entered the darkness of the Channel Tunnel – everything keeps on going. And God never abandons us no matter how dim the tunnel you are currently in might feel. It’s a process, and I’ve come to know at a deep heart level that He loves me beyond my wildest imagination and wants the best for me. The more that is my focus, the easier it is to hang on in the tunnel moments (or hours, or days, or months, or years sometimes!).
God is Working!
Whatever “tunnel” you might be traveling through right now – business challenges, work problems, feeling lost, family drama, health issues, or relationship struggles – God is still there, still working and still madly in love with you!
Upon exiting the tunnel, you are jolted into the blinding sunshine! In that moment, you see more clearly what God’s been up to on your behalf, even if there are still some mysteries.
If you’ve been through a few “tunnels” in your life, you know they are temporary. Sometimes even with this head knowledge of the temporary nature of tunnels, your heart may waver!
What’s the secret to surviving the tunnels of life?
1. Remain Connected to God
If you let them, your feelings have a way of derailing you! That’s why it’s so important to stay in the Word and continue to pour your heart out to God. There’s no reason to hide how you feel – He already knows and wants you to trust Him enough to share your true thoughts and feelings with Him! Lean on Him, meditate on His promises, and connect with Him at a deeper level.
It’s not in the easy moments that you grow – you grow to trust God in greater ways in the midst of the struggles and in the dark tunnels. And, oh, how He longs for you to trust Him! It’s those tough tunnel moments that prepare you for all that’s ahead so the more you surrender, learn, and grow the better off you are.
2. Be Obedient
Just like kids fear the dark, adults fear dark moments too. Fear causes you and me to behave in some funky ways! Whatever it is that God has called you to be and do, stay true to that. Just keep on keeping on no matter how unproductive it feels in the moment! Don’t be tempted to strive or to quit. Just trust that you are on the right path. Obey!
3. Invite Others to Support You
You and I were not intended to do life solo, especially not in the tunnels of life! Sharing with those close to you and letting them know about the “tunnel” you are experiencing may not be easy, but it is worthwhile. Invite them to pray with you, for you, and to support you through the dark time. There’s great power in prayer. And it requires courage and maturity on your part to allow others to help you in this way!
Those dark and difficult seasons are also the perfect opportunity to enlist the help of a coach. Not only does a Christian coach help you remain focused on God through the process, but they also provide perspectives that are new to you and that encourage you to grow and mature in ways you might not experience on your own.
4. Count It Joy
By far, the hardest part of your tunnel time might be counting it joy! Yet as you train yourself to look for the good in tough times, it shifts your perspective to what’s positive about your circumstance, and there is something positive!
James tells us there are other benefits as well:
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4 (NLT)
Life is a journey!
Along the way, you will encounter tunnels (or trials): moments of darkness when the path forward seems to slows down or come to a complete halt. It’s all a part of the journey. How you navigate those tunnels makes a difference. You either grow, increase your faith, and learn to persevere and come out the other side better prepared for the future. Or you operate out of fear, get worked up about all the “what ifs,” and miss how your loving heavenly Father has been graciously at work on your behalf.
I can’t imagine our family trip without that adventure to Paris. Even though it wasn’t a part of the original plan, some happy memories were made that day! If my apprehension around tunnels under the sea had kept me from joining my family I would have seriously missed out!
The tunnels play a powerful role in life! Don’t miss out on the chance to become more resilient, increased faith, maturity, and be connected to God more deeply.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
What are you missing in the dark tunnels of life?
This post has been updated and revised just for you! Originally posted on 6/6/17.
© Can Stock Photo / andreacrisante