The Darkroom

My father was a photographer in WWII and after he and my mother were married, he built a small photography business on the side. Nuptials and newborns were his venues of choice, but even at family functions, if my dad didn’t have a cigar in his hand, he was setting up his tripod. He’d position his Yashica Mat and adjust the lens. “Everyone, sit still and smile,” he’d yell as he rushed to his spot before the camera clicked.

We were taking selfies long before it was a thing.


Most of the photos my dad took never made it into albums. Shoe boxes stuffed with pictures he’d developed filled the credenza in our living room. I remember as a young girl I’d sit on the shag carpet (okay, I’m dating myself), dump out the contents of the boxes and scrounge through the remnants of family history. Today I’m thankful that I’m able to capture a reflection of my past. But my ability to see any of those snapshots is only because they first spent time in the darkroom.

Photographers know that in order to allow light sensitive materials time to process, they have to develop in the dark.

God knows that too.

His way of developing us is similar to the way a photographer processes film. It may seem like He’s not there, but God fashions beautiful things in the shadows.

He creates flowers in the darkness of soil.

A seed has to be planted in the dark in order to grow. It needs light as well, but first it needs darkness. If a seed never gets buried in the dirt, it’ll never sprout. In order for the glory of a flower to emerge it has to be taken out of the package, planted in soil, exposed to a dark place for a season and sometimes even covered with stinky manure. Soil, darkness, manure and light all work together to cause something beautiful to grow.

In our lives hardships and difficulties are like manure. They stink. But God takes a seed of purpose and plants it among difficulties because he wants to grow something beautiful in your life.

He creates life in the darkness of a mother’s womb.

What starts out as an almost invisible sperm grows for nine months in the pitch black and just before the baby is born, birthing pains push it into the light. (If you have birthed a baby, you know why contractions are called birthing pains.)

It’s in the midst of pain and the absence of light that glory springs forth. Glory comes from a Greek word, doxa, meaning splendor, brightness and majesty. A thing belonging to God. But the glory can’t shine until after the suffering. After the black—not before.

The concept of pain is one we all want to avoid, but in God’s kingdom, the dark places of suffering are the pathway to glory. I know this isn’t a popular topic, but here’s the truth. We all deal with issues. Which would you rather do?

Merely endure…merely tolerate? Suffer through it with nothing to show for it? Or when trials come your way, would you rather line yourself up with the word of God and declare:

I am more than an overcomer. Give me my trophy and put a crown on my head. I’ve fought the good fight and I’ve finished my race. I am not defeated. I may have been hard pressed on every side, but I’m not crushed. I may have been persecuted, but I’m not abandoned. I may have been struck, but I’m not struck down. If God be for me, who can be against me?

I’m not trying to declare difficulties over you. Paul already did that. Paul said we’d have troubles. But here’s how he said to handle them. He tells us not to be unsettled by our trials (1 Thessalonians 3:3). We were destined for them.

Destined for issues, hardships and difficulties?

Well…yes, BUT…

God is up to something in the middle of our issues. That’s how He makes beautiful things.

It takes pain to push forth glory because God’s ways are different than ours. A bunch of doo-doo makes flowers beautiful. What makes us think we are any different? We aren’t immune to issues. But God uses our trials to make us stronger, God intends to use them to make us a beautiful fragrance of hope to the world. 

Destiny and purpose is birthed in the darkness.   

I learned a lot about this principle from my dad. When we moved to Oklahoma he built a darkroom in our garage. After he hung film to develop he shut the door so no light would sneak in. He knew exactly how long the film needed to develop and wouldn’t let anyone open the door while they were developing; otherwise, his beautiful photos would be underdeveloped.

The way God processes hope in us is similar to the way a photographer processes film. Both need darkness to develop.

In a similar way, you are God’s picture. When your world is dark, it may seem like He’s nowhere in sight, but He’s just on the other side of the door. He’s waiting. He knows exactly how long it will take for beauty and purpose to develop. And when the time is right, He’ll throw open the door and turn on the light. You and your story are His beautiful picture to display hope to a hurting world.

So when darkness surrounds you, don’t fret. God has purpose in mind and He is creating something beautiful in you! Let Him complete the work He began in you. Like a skilled photographer developing photos in the darkroom, God wants you to know…

what’s developed in the dark will shine in the light!

Questions to Ponder:

  • How can the concept of a darkroom encourage you next time your own world seems black?
  • If your life was on a roll of film, what format would it be in? Why?
    • It’s still in the package
    • It’s in the camera, waiting for a good photo op
    • It never got developed. It’s still a negative.
    • It’s out of focus or under developed
    • It’s still processing in the darkroom
    • It’s a beautiful picture displaying His glory
  • Do you remember picture day in school? If you were absent or blinked, you got a retake. Do you think God allows retakes? Why or why not?


Father, I pray that when my sister’s world seems dark, that she would remember you are creating something beautiful in her life. I declare that bitterness, sorrow and despair would never take root. Instead she’d be full of joy in the midst of the wait and be reminded of Your faithfulness, keeping her eyes fixed on Your promises. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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30 Responses to The Darkroom

  1. Gaye J at #

    Love this! Such a good analogy for our seasons in the dark places. Your writing always encourages me!

    • Christy Johnson at #

      Thank you Gaye! So thankful for your encouragement and friendship!

    • Carly at #

      Thank you for this, it’s very encouraging, I’m dealing with breast cancer currently and I have faith I will be healed, this helps me to remember that the process is refining me and strengthening my faith, and in the dark moments He sustains me and reminds me that all we ever really have is Him, and all we really ever need is Him. Thanks again and God bless

      • Christy Johnson at #

        Oh, it’s so true that we don’t need faith when life has no problems. I pray His grace is more than sufficient as you conquer cancer!

        • Teena at #

          This is beautiful! Thank you!

  2. Jonava at #

    Christy this was magnificent ! It sure put my dark places in perspective for me! Thank you so much for sharing your life with us and all the wonderful gifts God has given you too! Jonava

    • Christy Johnson at #

      You are welcome Jonava! I so enjoyed our time together last night! God is moving in YOU!

  3. Chiquita at #

    LOVE IT!!!! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Mindy B at #

    Thank you for this article of writing. I’m going through one of the hardest times in my life right now. Knowing that God is in control is not easy for I’m a worry wart! However, I am aware that I need to embrace these trials and tribulations. Even though it is hard but the trials and tribulations now are necessary to get closer to Him. (I needed that reminder.) It will be much sweeter once I get to the other side of this season. Until then I will lean on Our Savior for guidance and love.

    • Christy Johnson at #

      I’m glad it encouraged you, Mindy. Going through the hard times is difficult. You are right. The other side is sweet. I pray God gives you double grace in the meantime!

  5. Christy, you are such an amazing woman with a remarkable story and a beautiful gift for writing. This is such a revealing analogy. You so deserve the success you are experiencing. Since I’ve known you since childhood it has been such a joy to follow you. Keep sharing your love for the lord and for other women. So many need you. Blessings, Your old friend Vicki

    • Christy Johnson at #

      Thank you so much Vicki! I have many fond memories of 5th grade and times at the lake with you and your family. I’m thrilled that we are still connected all these years later!

  6. Janey at #

    This really blessed me today. I’ve been walking in a lot of darkness for about two weeks. Thank you for sharing God’s light and reminding me that His plan is still in the darkroom!!

    • Christy Johnson at #

      Even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He is with us. I was reminded recently that in order for a shadow to be present, light has to be nearby. Such a comforting thought!

  7. Catherine Tanner at #

    I loved this and it is so true. I have had so many trials throughout my life but many more blessings. I have to be honest, I don’t like when the trials show up at the worst times. Then I remember there is always a purpose in my pain and then I can accept it more easily. Thank You for this article. God Bless!

    • Christy Johnson at #

      It’s always easier to see the light on the other side!

  8. Suzanne Grimaud at #

    ❤️ Love this!!!! What great truth and insight Re: the dark (our valleys). Christy, it’s obvious why you were chosen as a finalist. I am and always have been a fan. Thank you for inspiring me! Love you, sister. And CONGRATULATIONS 🎊

    • Christy Johnson at #

      thank you Suzanne! You inspire me too!

  9. Hazel at #

    Wow, thanks for the words of encouragement Christy, i’m glad to have a sister who understands what it means to have dark days & who actually went through it & finally overcame, I thank God for your life… thanks for being an inspiration to me. Congratulations for being one of the finalist … i’m a big fan:)

    • Christy Johnson at #

      Thank you so much Hazel!

  10. Bettina Rose Nysæther at #

    Thank you for sharing this story. I need encouragement on a daily basis , and appreciate whatever The Lord gives me. God bless you!

    • Christy Johnson at #

      We all need our daily bread, both in food and spiritual encouragement!

  11. Tayo at #

    Yes, this is really true and apt! I feel like I’m in the darkroom right now. All seems silent, painful and I just keep grasping for that ray of light that seems like it won’t shine. Yet in the recess of my heart, I’m convinced that God is working it all out for His glory.
    Thank you for this encouragement!!

  12. Christy Johnson at #

    You are so welcome Tayo. Keep your eyes fixed on the promise on the other side!

  13. I sure do love this! Don’t you love seeing God’s picture began to develop?!

    • Christy Johnson at #

      Yes, I do!

  14. Ayooluwa at #

    I’m reading this in 2020 and this really hit me spot-on. I’ve been in the dark room from the beginning of this year, I call it the wilderness experience. It has really been a tough one. The silence is almost deafening. But even in so much pain and with this little ray of hope, I know in the waiting, God is working all things out.
    Reading this just further bolstered my hope. Thank you!

    • Christy Johnson at #

      The desert is not a fun place to be, but there is a Promise on the other side!

  15. Carrie at #

    Your timing is impeccable. I feel like I’m in the dark. A day I never thought I’d see has come. Choices I never thought my husband would make have been made. I am so glad to see it and know truth. I do feel like I’m in the darkroom. Thank you for reminding me I can trust my Father to “swing open the door and let the light flood my life” – all in His time. Thank you Christy for your encouragement.

  16. Deborah at #

    Absolutely on time word of encouragement!
    Thank you so much for your obedience to our Lord in allowing Him to use you for His glory!!

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