Every great story must go lower before it goes higher. To feel the joy, exuberance, and utter relief that all turned out beautifully in the end, you will have to go through the scenes that make you feel this could never turn out for good.
God is a great story teller. As he writes the larger story that affects all of humanity from the beginning of time until the earth’s last days, he also has subplots in each of our individual lives to add to the drama. But his writing pattern is the same: to bring about the best possible ending, he lets the plot grow very dark and bleak throughout our lives. The unknowns ahead, the loss of loved ones, the relational turmoil, wars, famines, suburban job losses, and internal depression that seems to have no cause – all of it can make you wonder, as all good stories should make you wonder, “How could this possibly turn into a happy ending?”
But God is faithful, and as the Director of every scene in both our individual stories and the larger story that involves us all, he has the ability to transform the story line in ways we never could have imagined. The best stories are not happy and fluffy on every page. Happy endings are truly happy and not cheesy and fake only when before the happiness comes there was true, justifiable sadness.
Therefore, the problem in every story is not in whose directing it, it’s in those who have stopped following the Director’s ques. The problem lies not when tragedy, extreme boredom, or total hopelessness strikes our lives; the problem occurs when we don’t turn the page to see how God wants to write the end of the story.
If you where to read through the gospels and stop at the crucifixion in Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19, you would have a dead, lifeless gospel that would bring no hope to anyone. Jesus really did die, the plot arch really did dip that low, and we as his disciples would be fools to follow him if the story ended there. But the story doesn’t end there. Each gospel has at least one more chapter titled, “The Resurrection.” Without Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20, the Director would have failed in creating the best, most important story ever told. But he did write those pages. Those chapters are there. Jesus really did raise from the dead, conquered sin and death, and now reigns victorious, interceding and bringing victory for all those who believe and follow him.
In each of our lives, there are “resurrection” chapters ahead. The problem is that many of us have stopped turning the pages. We’ve gotten stuck at the low point in the story. We got crucified but since we stopped following the Director’s instructions, we stayed dead. Just like the gospel, we must allow God the time and freedom to write each of our individual stories the way he wants. The betrayal happened, the disciples abandoned Jesus, and Jesus’ dead body really was sealed in a tomb. But that wasn’t the end of the story. Just as the gospel would be a hopeless story if we stopped reading at the crucifixion, our stories will be hopeless if we stop following Jesus during the low points in life.
There is going to be real loss, pain, and deep confusion in our lives, causing us to questions, “How could this possibly turn into a happy ending?” The answer to that question will never arrive if you stop following Jesus because of the dark scenes in life. Instead you must choose to follow him even closer because the scenes unfolding in your story are that dyer.
Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” This promise will only come to fruition if we keep turning the pages, not allowing ourselves to get stuck in the moment, believing that there really are resurrection chapters ahead.