The Stories We Love And Doubt
By Sam Scott
I love stories. I could spend a lot of time talking about how we’re always:
talking about stories.
Humans have been doing this since the dawn of time. But the main point is we live in a “story” world.
What was missing from my list there is we’re all also living a story. And like the stories we read, hear and watch, some stories we’re living aren’t very good. When we make the decision to stop saying “someday” and start doing something today, we are already choosing to live a better story.
But how many stories don’t have conflict? How many don’t have a villain or some force pressing back against the hero?
There are forces in this world that will press back against you as well. They want you to doubt your story, doubt yourself and mostly, they want you to doubt Jesus.
For me, doubt itself is the enemy.
For years I’ve had to contend with doubts and anxieties that in the moment feel crippling. And then there is the guilt “Why do I still struggle with this? What’s wrong with me? Other people seem to have it so figured out, why am I still this way?”
I suspect you’re aware that our real lives don’t work like the stories we watch, hear and listen. Those stories have endings that make sense in some way.
And that’s intentional. Storytellers know that for a story to work well it has to have a good climax, an incredible ending that creates what writer’s call irreversible change; which simply means the main character and/or his circumstances change for good. The villain is vanquished, the war is won or perhaps the hero overcomes something within himself.
But not our stories.
There are so many moments I think I’ve finally moved beyond doubt into the promised land of certainty. I’ve won, the credits are about to roll and the rest is bliss and a ride off into the sunset.
But it hasn’t happened. Anxiety and doubt still have the ability to rip the reins from my trembling fingers. I suspect it is the same for you and your battles. Maybe you’ve overcome some things and achieved others but even if we complete one story, we find ourselves hurled into another.
I wish this wasn’t true. I wish we could vanquish our enemies in a way that banishes them from us forever. I wish there weren’t days that the way ahead didn’t look like a foggy haze that could be hiding anything from closed doors to cancer and death. I wish we didn’t live in a world at war.
But perhaps this is where the stories we love can help us.
The Lord of the Rings is my favorite story of all-time; one reason why is because J.R.R. Tolkien believed in something he called eucatastrophe. He believed if the nature of story was for everything that can possibly go wrong to indeed go wrong (often like life), why could there not be a moment where suddenly everything goes right?
In The Lord of the Rings: This moment comes where evil is gloriously defeated. The forces of darkness are literally swallowed by the earth, the king returns to Gondor and a new era of peace begins with great joy.
For Samwise Gamgee, this proves to be so overwhelming, he can’t help but to ask “Is everything sad going to come untrue? What's happened to the world?"
I know these days are dark and such a moment seems beyond our ability to comprehend. But I think the Bible offers a shout similar to our dear Sam’s:
“He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people's disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. – Isaiah 25:8
Our lives on this earth will not play out like perfect stories. They won’t have a climactic moment where we make it, arrive and then live happily ever after. We will constantly find ourselves in the throws of another story because we aren’t capable of living a story produces irreversible change.
But Jesus did. He still is.
This gives us something to hold on to in our own stories: real hope. Because real hope isn’t on us to rip happiness out of life, it isn’t in a country, an idea or another person to fix us.
Real hope is in a God who has moved heaven and earth to come to get us and someday take us home to be with Him. When doubt comes, know when our hope is in Jesus, it is indeed certain whether we can feel it on any given day or not.
So perhaps the answer to doubt isn’t feeling certain, it’s resting in hope. In this life we may face terrible foes, brutal enemies and overwhelming pain. And it is ok to wish these things weren’t happening. “. . . so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring).”
Let’s resolve to be a people of hope, let’s resolve that the only someday we hope for is the day when God swallows death forever and we get to go home; let’s resolve for that to be enough for us to take steps today.
I’d like to leave you with my favorite quote from C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. It is how Lewis ends his story and for those in Christ, it will be the end of ours as well:
And for us this is the end of all the stories and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.
Want to read more about overcoming doubts and making your story count as you walk with God into the unknown? Check out Buddy Gosey’s book, Enough:Someday Start Today, which releases March 2nd.
Want to read more from Sam Scott? Go to artsyrelevantblogname.wordpress.com