It seems intrinsic in the telling of stories and myths, that good always overcomes evil, that the hero slays the villain, that the cowboy rides into the sunset. Look at the stories that have been wildly popular movies lately. Harry Potter comes to mind - the last installment came out this summer and people were lined up around the block at the stroke of midnight to see him defeat Voldemort. Or the Lord of the Rings trilogy where the ring and Sauron were finally destroyed.
Have you noticed the stories we love the most all feature unlikely heroes- people who seem unlikely to get through the day, never mind destroy a great villain or overcome evil. But they do. It's why we cheer them on - that could be us up there on the screen.
Even the Bible stories that fill Sunday schools around the world feature young David killing Goliath the giant. Or timid, unimportant Gideon leading the charge and winning the battle. Noah gets an ark (and some cool pets); Daniel isn't eaten by the lions and Shaddrach, Meshach and Abednego walk around in a fiery furnace.
I'm not sure where the idea has seeped into mainstream Christianity that if we just love God and follow Him we will get that happily ever after here on earth. Maybe it is because of all the Bible stories with happy endings we were told as children. Or maybe it is someone taking the verse, "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose," and thinking that means their life circumstances will have a movie-worthy ending.
Of course, ALL Christians have a happily ever after in eternity - it's called heaven. But here on earth, there isn't any such promise. In fact, if you take a little tour through the New Testament you'll find that all of Jesus' disciples were put to death - usually in rather gruesome ways. Stephen was stoned because he spoke so eloquently of Jesus.
And let's not forget Paul. Paul who practically wrote the whole New Testament, didn't sugar coat his experiences. He was beaten, whipped, stoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked, snake-bit; and finally beheaded in Rome. That doesn't sound so "happily ever after" to me.
I know this sounds terribly pessimistic, but I do have a point that isn't all doom and gloom. I promise.
The truth is the Bible tells us, that as Christians, we are going to have trouble. Things may not seem to have a happy ending for us here on earth. We aren't promised that.
In fact, our life here is described as a battle. We are soldiers in an epic battle on an unseen battleground. Our lives here on earth will be hard; they will be fraught with difficulties and hardships. But knowing that, understanding that gives us a whole new perspective - the right perspective. When something happens or circumstances knock us down, we aren't disillusioned or bitter because we know - this is part of being war.
I don't know about you, but I want to acquit myself well on the battlefield. I want to hear Jesus tell me "well done, good and faithful servant." I don't want to shrink back in fear but charge with courage into the fray, holding my sword and shield high.
There is joy here on earth. God's blessings are abundant, but there aren't always the world's versions happily ever afters. We would be wise to keep our weapon at the ready, while remembering that we already know the ultimate ending to this war, if not our current battle - we win!
~ Blessings, Bronte