RELIGION COLUMN: We will one day read our story backward

Published 2:27 pm Thursday, December 26, 2013

By Jake McCall

On many occasions when I have been watching a movie, I have thought to myself, “They better not let this character die,” or, “This better have a happy ending.”

In those circumstances, I am counting on the ending to prove that redemption overcomes tragedy. And when I get to the end of the story, and the writer does the right thing and all is made right, I celebrate the movie and often recommend it to friends.

Television shows, on the other hand, often leave me frustrated and disappointed. This is because a particular episode often ends with tragedy or confusion. These endings demand that you come back to watch it the next week, hoping the next episode brings redemption and clarity. If the writer is skilled enough, he keeps the viewing audience feeling that way for years while longing for a redemptive ending.

We need stories to have redemptive endings because we desperately cling to the hope of a redemptive ending to our own story.

This is the great promise for the follower of Christ: One day soon, we will read our story backward and see the wonder and majesty of God all throughout our lives. This is hard—almost impossible—for most of us to imagine, but I believe there is nothing truer.

In the Book of Job, we are introduced to a man who is so faithful, God applauds his righteousness to the devil; yet at the devil’s urging and causing, Job begins to experience tragedy after tragedy. He loses possessions, wealth, health and family, and for a time, we see that he even begins losing some of his faith. This is a real-life tragedy, and one that many may be able to relate to.

At the end of the story, during four long chapters, God answers and challenges Job’s questioning of him, reminding Job of his wisdom, purposes and sovereignty. In the final chapter of this story, Job answers God with a repentant heart and, recalling all of the tragedy that had happened to him, declares that those were “things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”

Now it doesn’t say this, but for Job to be able to utter those words at that moment, he had to be filled with the Holy Spirit, because we, by nature, are unable to recognize the wonder of God in tragedy. But Job tells us that God is there.

God was there at the foundation of the world and he is in your whirlwind now. Because we are not God, we may struggle to see it, but he is doing wonderful things inside of you and around you, even in the midst of your tragedy and suffering.

The story of Job ends with God giving him twice as much, redeeming his story. This is a picture and a glimpse into what awaits the Christ follower in the new heavens and the new earth. Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:13 that “according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

Peter is telling Christ’s followers that a day is coming soon when all things will be made right, when all things will be redeemed, and when all things will become clear.

We will one day read our story backward and it will be wonderful, and we will see God there.

—Jake McCall is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. He is the pastor at Grace Fellowship Presbyterian Church. His column appears each Thursday.