I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33
Have you ever notice when you re-read a book, or re-watch a movie, the excitement level isn’t quite what it was the first time? This is particularly true about suspenseful novels or movies. Books and movies that at one point had us on the edge of our chair in suspense, don’t seem to have the same affect as they did the first time. They can be equally enjoyable the second go around, but the same level of anxiety is simply not there… Why is that?
Because we know the ending.
This doesn’t mean that all feelings of nervousness and unsettlement have disappeared, indeed all the best stories invoke these feelings every time we revisit them. But the way we experience those same feelings are quite different. The nervousness has settled a bit. It may be unpleasant at times, but there’s an underlining hope… we know how the story ends.
The same is true with sports. I’ve recorded many of my favorite games or favorite fights to watch again in the future. Curiously, the one’s I’ve re-watched the most were the ones that at one point had me clutching the arm rests of my chair in anxiety. Those ones are the best! They are the most fun to revisit, as I anticipate the ending with much less uneasiness. We may be down in the 3rd quarter, but I’m optimistic about the 4th. My favorite fighter may have lost the first 4 rounds, but we know there’s a knockout in the 5th. It brings a whole different level of ease to what once was a stressful situation… I’ve seen this game before.
The same is true when we go through times of anxiety in our own lives. If we knew how our stories would end, we would experience periods uncertainty in a much different way.
Well, the good news for us is that we can know how all of our stories end: God wins.
There may be some serious ups and downs before then, but in the end, without a doubt, we know that God will win.
We can flip to the back of the book (literally) and have confidence that God’s plans are going to prevail. He is firmly in control and at no point will loose that control. In every one of our lives, in every one of our circumstances, in all of our anxieties, both large and small, we can flip to the back of the book and know that God is still in control, he is still sovereign, and ultimately God will be the victor.
When we look at all of our individual hardships, through the lens of “God wins,” we can turn down the knob of anxiety just a little bit, knowing that in all cases, there is optimism in the air.
Obviously, this does not mean we are cured from times of crises and uncertainty. All the best stories have times of despair before the final victory: Jesus wept for Lazurus before he rose him from the grave. Christ cried out in agony in Gethsemane before conquering death on the cross. All great stories have periods great unease. But when we know the ending, we can experience that unease in a whole different way.
So when we go through periods of uncertainty and hardships, let’s remember that we can flip to the back of the book, and know the ending. We can hold our chins up and know that, while dark days may lay ahead, there is a hopeful undertone. Life is suspiciously optimistic. The story has a great ending. He’s in control and in the end, God wins.