Every winter, after the Christmas season is over, my family watches the entire Lord of the Rings series (all eleven and a half hours of the extended version). Danny and I started the tradition years ago on cold January nights after the kids went to bed, but when our children got old enough to handle Gollum and the orcs, they enthusiastically joined us. Although there is great character development and a good bit of comic relief, a large portion of the series is dark. In fact, the second movie ends with evil seemingly ahead with little hope that it will be stopped, and it isn’t until the last twenty minutes of the entire series that the ring, the source of evil, is finally destroyed.
Though it’s not a perfect analogy, it’s helpful for me to remember that I am also in the middle of an epic adventure that is not yet complete. It’s easy for me to grow weary and overwhelmed by the brokenness in the world. I felt it this past week as I prayed for loved ones whose bodies are hurting and no doctor seems to have answers. I felt it as I watched a video for foster care training about childhood sexual abuse survivors and the trauma they have experienced. I felt it as I read articles about the many victims of devastating abuse committed and covered up within the church. I felt it while getting updates about brothers and sisters persecuted for their faith around the world. I feel the weight of it when I look at my own children and know that there is no way for me to perfectly insure their protection from the effects of evil in the world.
Yet, I know this is not how the story ends.
John 1:5 reminds us,
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Jesus came, lived a perfect life, died for our sins, rose again, ascended, and promised that one day He will come back and make all things right. He ushered in a new kingdom and gave his followers a mission and His Spirit. Like any good story, sometimes it looks as if all is lost, but He has allowed us to jump ahead and know the glorious end, and that there can be hope and meaning even in the darkest chapters.
God is good. God is a mighty warrior. God is full of loving-kindness. God is wise. God is just. God is merciful. God is patient. God is close to the broken-hearted. God so loved the world that whoever believes Him shall not perish. He is an author we can trust, and He has written us into the story. We get to be ambassadors of reconciliation as we share the gospel, make disciples, enact justice, and pray that His will be done.
In the book version of The Return of the King (the final book in the Lord of the Ring series), hobbit Samwise Gamgee asks wizard Gandalf, “Is everything sad going to come untrue?”
Sally Lloyd-Jones’ summary of Revelation 21 in her Children’s Storybook Bible gives a good answer:
“And the King says, ‘Look, God and his children are together again. No more running away. Or hiding. No more crying or being lonely or afraid. No more being sick or dying. Because all of those things are gone. Yes, they’re gone forever. Everything sad has become untrue. And see-I have wiped away every tear from every eye!”
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!