Life in the middle of the story

It's been a while since I've posted anything.  Spring is a pretty busy time for me.  I referee high school and college lacrosse, which starts in early January and in mid May.  I'm usually busy 3-5 nights a week during lacrosse season.  It's good physical exercise, and I really enjoy it.  But I realized I need to also exercise my mind!  So now that the season is over, I hope to get back into regularly posting again.

A couple of weeks ago I was reflecting on some of the great sci-fi and action movies I like to watch.  I've seen all the Star Wars movies multiple times.  I really like Saving Private Ryan, Act of Valor, and Lone Survivor, and I've seen all of these several times.  This drives my wife crazy because she doesn't like to watch a movie more than once.  But me, I can watch some movies over and over again.  Despite knowing how they're going to end, I still enjoy the movie.  This got me thinking about how people (including Christians, non-Christians, and even atheist) often complain about bad events in their lives.  We all do it, myself included.  What is different, I believe, from those of us who view the world through the Christian/theistic lens is some will use tragic events somehow as evidence that God either doesn't care or doesn't even exist at all.  While there are several problems with this thinking, an interesting "movie" analogy occurred to me.

When we watch a movie for the first time, we're unaware of how it ends.  We don't know the final outcome.  We have to "live" through the movie to see how everything works itself out in the end.  But think about it from the perspective of the movie viewer (like me) who has seen a movie before.  I already know how the story is going to end.  I know, in advance, how the conflict is going to be resolved.  I know that good will triumph over evil, the hero will save the day, and the bad guy will "get it" in the end.

This is how God sees our lives.  He already knows how the "movie" (of our lives) will play out.  We're going through it and can't possibly know what is going to happen in the next scene.  So we may complain about the "evil" events that are happening to us in a given moment; but we have to keep in mind we don't have God's perspective.  God has not promised us a pain free life.  But He has promised those who love and trust Him that, in the end, things will work out for the good.  In his letter to the early Christian church in Rome, the apostle Paul writes, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:19, ESV).  He continues a few passages down with, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (v.28).  He reminds us that, for followers of Christ, the suffering and evil that we experience in our earthly life are nothing compared to spending eternity in God's presence.  And he also tells us that in the end, God will ensure all things, including the pain, loss, and suffering we experience, will actually work out for the good for those who love and trust Him.

That's often very hard for us to understand or accept while we're right in the middle of life's mess.