I have a confession to make…I don’t think I’ve ever read a book without skipping to the last chapter to see how it ends.
I start out with great intentions. This time will be different. This time I’ll read straight through—no skipping.
It’s never different though. I can’t help myself. If I’m going to invest hours of my life in a story, I want to make sure I’m going to like the ending.
This problem gives light to my impatient nature. I don’t like pushing through the middle of the story—I want to know how the book ends now. When I discover the ending, I enjoy the middle more because I know things may be going horribly wrong for the characters now, but in the end it will all be ok.
I love a nice happy ending—that’s probably why I’ve never made it through any Nicholas Sparks book.
I know life’s not always happy; this world is fallen and broken. Art reflects life, so we have countless stories with realistically unhappy endings.
And God never promises us earthly riches or easy days.
Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
And Peter encourages us with the following:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1: 3-7, ESV, emphasis mine)
So spoiler alert: We’re going to have trouble here on earth, but if our hope and faith are in Christ and we are his, then our ultimate future is an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.
But we haven’t made it to our beautiful ending yet. We’re living in-between the once upon a time and happily ever after.
And knowing that happily forever after with our Savior will be the end of our story, should encourage and empower us to take heart and press on faithfully during our current trials—to live boldly right now because no matter what comes, our ending is beautiful.
This in-between time MATTERS because it is the heart of our story. The suffering and trials we endure now makes the end to our redemption story all the more beautiful and welcome.
But, at least for me, sometimes it takes a little while for knowledge to travel from my head to my heart. I need reminding often.
So I encourage you (and myself) to remember that the time you failed today for the umpteenth time is not your ending. We’re still in the in-between. And this in-between is beautiful too because it points us to Christ and our need for him.
Redemption for those times we fail (over and over again—at least in my case) is found in Christ alone, and the ending he has written for his followers is wonderfully beyond what anyone could ever dream or comprehend.
PS: I realize you might be reading this and say, “Hey, I’m not really struggling right now. Today was the best day of my life!” Wonderful! Great times should point us to Christ too because they are a drop in the bucket compared to our ultimate happily forever after with Him!