Unhappy Endings

I just finished a book that I almost loved

Until I got to the end

When the heroine died

Leaving me feeling empty

The book left me pondering endings

As a teacher and lover of books I embrace the obstacles

The tension, the conflict, the climax of a story

I understand the need for exposition and backstory

But as a person I still like

happy endings

My least favorite movies the ones with depressing ends

Like The English Patient or Angela’s Ashes

I don’t like the stories where the athlete gets injured

Unable to play the game she loves

Where a young girl dies of cancer

Before she ever gets to make her wish

And just days before her birthday

Where Christians die in the arena

Attacked by lions

I like the stories where Nineveh is spared

The lions mouths are closed

And the flames do not burn the men thrown into the fire

The stories of Ruth getting a new husband

And Naomi a grandchild to hold

I like the stories where Esther saves her people

Where Job’s fortunes are restored

And Sarah has a child in her old age

But not all stories have happy endings

Bathsheba’s righteous husband dies by the sin of David

Samson perishes as a building comes crashing down around him

Moses dies before entering the promised land

And the prayed for child is never born

Our unmet expectations cause us grief

The weight of loss and dashed hopes brings us to the edge of despair

As we sometimes question the very goodness of God

In the midst of our suffering

Yet

His mercies are new every morning

His faithfulness so far beyond our ability to comprehend

He alone can be trusted to write the ending of our stories

Though I so often try and grab the pen

The unhappy endings part of a bigger story

He is weaving

So often I cannot see what He is doing

Like why Covid has been allowed to steal so many moments

Why 2020 has been filled with so much misery

Why smiles are hidden and hugs forbidden, songs are silenced

And loved ones are distanced

This “new normal” which is anything but

I may never know the why this side of heaven

The tree once covered with lush green leaves

Turning to vivid oranges and reds

The leaves releasing one by one

Until none remain

I wonder if the tree mourns the losses

The many months it stands naked

A skeleton of what once it was

A kind of death

Until the spring when new buds form

And the hint of green can be seen again

Perhaps the trouble with unhappy endings

Is that they are not really the end

They only seem like the end

In this season of loss

In the moments of waiting

How thin our patience

How short our perspective

He has set eternity in the hearts of men

Yet no one can fathom what God has done

From beginning to end

Our eternal God

He who is not bound by the limits of time

My heart aches at the losses

At the unhappy endings which might not be endings after all

I cry out to God

He comforts as a Father comforting a child

And we with our skinned knees and tear-stained faces

Are held close by his nail-scarred hands

The Fall has guaranteed us unhappy endings

But the Cross has promised us

A new beginning

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