The Rest of the Story
Who doesn’t love a great story? Whether we enjoy our stories via television, movies, or a great book, we simply love them. From a beginning that draws us in, to the events that create the drama that leads us to the exciting climax of the action. A great story can take us into other peoples’ lives and help us feel what it would be like to live a different life. They can motivate, teach, warn, inspire, or even lead us in the wrong direction.
God has used stories to teach and lead His people throughout time. Jesus was famous for His stories, and hundreds of people would gather to listen to them. The entire Bible is the great story of our God, His beloved creation, and the lengths to which He would go to reveal Himself to all who were willing to seek Him.
Let’s think for a minute about a few of those great stories in the Bible, and how different things would be if the story had ended in the middle. How would things be different if these men and women of God had not pressed on through their trials to find what God had for them on the other side of their suffering?
Job was widely known as a righteous man and was very blessed. Yet, God allowed Satan to test him severely. He lost everything including his children and his property. All he was left with was a wife who hounded him to “curse God and die”, and three friends who kept telling him that he had obviously sinned somehow or he wouldn’t be suffering.
If the story had stopped here, Job could easily have felt completely abandoned by God. But the story does not stop there. God never fully answers Job when asked why he had to suffer, but God does remind him that he is in the hands of the Creator who is more than capable of running the universe. Job wisely accepts this answer, humbles himself yet again, and perseveres. Eventually he is rewarded by God with the restoration of his fortune and a new family.
Then there's Joseph. Sold into slavery, then later thrown into prison on false charges, he never gives up his faith or his godly lifestyle. If we only look at the story up to the point where we find him in jail, however, we would think he has no reason for such faith when God would allow him to go to jail for a crime he did not commit. Yet, the story did not end in prison. By holding onto his faith and waiting for God’s perfect timing, Joseph was later given a place of authority and was able to save all of Egypt and his entire family from famine.
Then there is the story of Daniel. As an Israelite, he found himself in slavery in a foreign land, forced to accept ways and practices that were not his own. Yet, he managed to prosper. That is, until his face was tested. He quickly fell from the leaders' favor when he refused to pray to anyone but the One, True God. As he sat in the lions’ den praying not to be devoured, I’m sure he had many questions. And yet, he persevered. God saved him from the mouths of those lions and restored him to a place of leadership again.
The Bible is filled with stories like these. Stories of men and women who chose to trust God through very trying times and circumstances. They are given to us in God’s word to give us hope that we too can persevere and live lives of faith and trust. We too can live our lives for God. We too can stand up to whatever trials come our way knowing that we can be safely held in the hands of the God who made and maintains the universe. We too can rest securely in His hands through the fiercest storms of life.
Remember, Jesus himself was our greatest example, and even He had to suffer in this life. He had to suffer a humiliating, excruciating death on a cross to fulfill God’s ultimate plan of salvation. Yet, He did not stay embalmed in that tomb. I’m sure the disciples were beside themselves thinking that it was the end of Jesus’ story. But it was not! He rose again, giving hope to us all. As Jesus told His disciples,
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
So, wherever you find yourself in life, keep the faith! Hold on to the truth of His word. Know that your life is safely within His hands if you trust in Christ. Trust Him for the strength to run this race and win. Don’t get discouraged in the middle of the story. He knows the ending and He’s promised to be faithful and be right there with you through it all. As the writer of Hebrews says,
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3