A couple days ago I was reading The Fellowship of the Ring and was coming up to the saddest part of the story. (No spoiler here!) It’s the nth time I’ve read the book, so I knew what was coming. I found myself wanting to stop reading because I didn’t want the sad part to happen.
Sort of, I guess, like a baby who doesn’t have object permanence. If I close my eyes, it doesn’t exist. If I don’t see it, it’s not happening.
But I pushed through the Mines of Moria, and now they’re in Lothlórian. The fellowship still has great sadness, but their grief didn’t destroy them, and they found rest.
The same kind of reaction happens when I read the Gospels and I know when the sad part of the story is coming. I read the tender, last words, and I want to stop reading because what happens next is too terrible to think about.
Maybe if I don’t read it, it didn’t happen.
This evening we had communion, so I couldn’t avoid the sad part of the story. I’m not supposed to forget it, Jesus said. I should not try to forget that part of His life because all of history hinges on it. It’s good to push through the terrible parts and come out on the other side, knowing the tragedy wasn’t actually the end of the world even though it felt like it.
There’s a lot to take home from that. Trust. Hope. Confidence. Defeat for the enemy. Redemption.
I think maybe the biggest thing to take from that awful story–apart from gratitude for Jesus saving my soul–is that the dark, terrible parts of the story make the light brighter at the other end. Joy is fuller after the grief. Healing is more wondrous after the brokenness.
For the fellowship, the story doesn’t end in Lothlórian. Most of the journey is still ahead of them, and it will be hard.
I have walked in darkness and brokenness, and this current place of light and healing is more precious for it. But my story isn’t finished yet, and the road will be hard and yucky and scary.
Knowing other stories lets me know that difficulty and blood and tears doesn’t end the story. It’s part of the story. Adds to it, in fact.
And some day, we will lose our object permanence. We won’t see sorrow and it won’t exist anymore. Like good old Sam wondered in bewilderment after the great shadow had passed, everything sad became untrue.
This is how I have courage to keep reading. And living.