Have you ever watched a movie that didn’t end the way you wanted it to? Perhaps the guy didn’t get the girl after all, or the bad guys got away, or the hero died in the end. Ever wanted to throw your popcorn at the screen in disgust?
We all love a happy ending. We love those stories where, despite adversity and trial, the good guys triumph over evil and everyone lives happily ever after.
That’s not true just in the movies, but in our Bible stories as well. We’re drawn to the stories where God works miracles. Stories of great faith, like that of barren Hannah conceiving a child and of little David defeating the giant Goliath and of prayerful Daniel surviving the lions’ den unscathed. Those stories can be inspiring and faith-building, and rightfully so.
However, faithfulness does not automatically mean happy endings. Hebrews 11 makes that clear:
Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. (Hebrews 11:35-38)
I am sure that the men and women who were persecuted, tortured and martyred prayed just as earnestly and faithfully as those who did not suffer. I don’t have answers as to why God chooses to do miraculous acts in some lives, and not in others.
Our family has known its share of triumphs and tragedy. We celebrate and rejoice in the recovery of my mom from her brain aneurysm just a month ago. And yet we’ve also pleaded with God to heal other family members, and the healing did not come. We’ve experienced unexpected deaths and divorces and other painful endings. I would imagine that all of you can think of instances where you didn’t get the so-called “happy ending”, and you’re still struggling to come to terms with that.
While I can’t explain God’s reasoning on these things, there are a couple of things I do know.
One is that God is good, regardless of the outcome. Bottom line, He can and is to be praised at all times, in triumph and in tragedy.
The second thing is that this life is not the true life, and that the only true loss is that of not knowing Christ as Lord of our lives. For those of us who do know Christ, we DO have a happy ending in store. It may not come packaged as we would expect, in the form of a happy marriage or children or a great job. But it is coming. Someday, it can truly be said of us, “…and they lived happily ever after.”