Faith Is Trusting in the End of the Story

faith trusting end of story
Sabbatical trip 2019

How do we have faith that a good ending is coming? I know lots of people in pain right now. Some are in physical pain—my friend whose husband needs back surgery, my friend who just had foot surgery, my friend with chronic headaches. Others are feeling the pain of losing their mom or dad, losing their marriage, or even the less profound losses of sports seasons and community gatherings. And then there’s the ongoing pain of injustice, whether it is felt personally or collectively. Ours is a world filled with pain.

Happy Endings

When I was younger, I wanted happy endings for all the bad things. I wanted quick healing for all the pain. I wanted easy explanations for why bad things happened. And I wanted bad things to happen only so that even better things could emerge.

Moreover, I wanted that good ending to come yesterday. I wanted to be able to see and testify to the good ending of the story. 

We Don’t Usually See the End of the Story

I wanted a controllable version of what Paul Miller calls the “J-Curve.” Miller coined this term to describe the pattern of a typical Christian life—that we go down into suffering and then are raised up by God into newness of life, like the letter “J”. (I’ve written and spoken elsewhere about the various types of J-curves Miller identifies—suffering, repentance, and love—as ways that we are invited to “share” in the life of Christ.)

The thing about the J-curve is that we don’t usually get to see the end of the story. Our pain doesn’t usually get resolved in a tidy way. It can take years, decades, a whole lifetime, to see the way God has worked “all things for good.” We get glimpses of goodness along the way, glimpses of resurrection. But much suffering remains senseless.

Faith and Trust

Another thing I’ve learned from Paul Miller (from his book “A Praying Life“) is to look for the story God is writing throughout our lives. To look for the way the faithful love of God is present in and through senseless pain, in and through suffering and death.

God is present in the dying. In the suffering. In the pain. I used to think God was only present in the resolution, the redemption, the bright light. I am learning to look for God in the darkness and the anguish and the hurt. And I am learning to cling to the hope of resurrection, to the promise of a story that will end in joy. 

In the midst of pain, having faith is not having certainty. In the midst of grief, having faith is not believing that everything happens for a reason. 

Faith is trusting in the end of the story. 

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