I’m a fan of “happy ever after” endings – in movies – in novels – and especially in real life. I’m not so sure Hollywood shares that passion, for it seems that lately much of what comes out of Hollywood doesn’t have that happy ever after ending I crave. It is no longer a forgone conclusion that the girl will get the guy. Or that the girl even wants the guy!
And novels. Take The Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns – talk about gut wrenching stories! And only the slightest glimmer of hope at the end – after most of my favorite characters have already succumbed to some tragic ending.
Are happy ever after endings becoming a thing of the past? Lately even my dreams are ending horribly. There’s this apocalyptic nightmare thing going on far too regularly for my polyanna mentality.
Perhaps Hollywood—and novelists—and my dreams—are simply reflecting much of this world’s reality. Life isn’t ending well for many. Take stories from just these past few weeks: Robin Williams, so depressed, he resorted to suicide – his wife leaving the house without checking in on him spoke volumes. Or Joan Rivers – having a minor routine procedure in a doctor’s office – something went wrong and she’s gone from this world as her career was still soaring at 81. Or the two reporters who were beheaded by terrorists. And that’s just the stuff that makes it to the nightly News.
Makes me want to pine away with Anne Murray, “sure could use a little good news today.” Or at least have it all end well.
And what about all the other unhappy endings in our own families? The ones that hit us personally? Often these are the moments when we start shaking our finger at God and screaming things toward the ceilings of our bedrooms like, Where are you?! Don’t you see I’m hurting?! Are you there?! Are you powerful?! Are you good?!
I’ve been there. Powerful emotions from decades ago can still flood my memory. But thankfully that is where they end—in my memory. They no longer have any hold on my heart or mind.
Is it crazy to think that I’m becoming ‘ok’ with tragedy?
Like the death of my younger brother twenty years ago. At 31 he was body surfacing in Hawaii. And that’s the last time anyone saw him. They never found his body, because the water was so shark infested they suspended the search assuming the worst. The week following his memorial service – I was still waking up and feeling overwhelming sadness. But I was also waking up to my alarm clock set on 106.9 – a Christian radio station – where they were playing a song called “He is with Jesus.” The most tender, bittersweet, soul-warming song. Perfect for that moment. I had never heard it before. But there it was, several times, during that period of mourning. Mornings I was too afraid to open my eyes because they were filled with tears I was trying to keep in.
Can we ever be assured that things will end well for us? Even if—and when—there are periods during our lifetime where we are afflicted or victimized or scandalized or humiliated or abandoned? Is there some sort of assurance that no matter what happens we still get to have that happy ever after ending?
Here’s a passage in the Bible that gives me a hopeful YES to that question:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long, we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 8:35ff]
You see, I think the answers to all our finger pointing and wondering whether or not God is good is beautifully reconciled at some point in our lives because of our conversion.
The conversion I speak of is when the Creator of the Universe becomes our Heavenly Father and regenerates our souls. When that light-bulb-in-the-soul goes off and the scales fall from our eyes – and we begin to see things from a heavenly perspective. This of course is completely supernatural and other-worldly in my opinion. I believe it all starts with a prayer such as “Lord Help.” Or, “Lord, come and find me.” Or, “Lord, if you’re real would you please let me know.” (That 3rd one sounds like Anne Rice’s prayer).
Augustine said, “unless you believe you will not understand.” Once you believe, you begin to understand that all things do work for the good of those who love God – eventually.
And I think all our questions start to change when our lives are overtaken with the realization that God is good, and God does love me and, does care for me, and all the messes I’ve made before and since, and will still make, somehow become redeemable in God’s economy. Jesus is proof of that.
While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. [Romans 5:8]
The reason why I know that Steven is with Jesus is not because I heard it on the radio, or because he was a good guy – because surely he was messy too. But I know he’s with Jesus because he trusted in Him for his salvation.
And for me, that is one happy ever after story … all because Steven’s soul was converted and he became one of God’s most treasured possessions for all eternity.