I am a romantic at heart. Whenever I read a good love story or courtship account, I add “and they lived happily ever after” to the end, even if it is not written in so many words. I often look back on my own life forgetting all the troubles and deep heartaches and remembering only the golden days and laughter. I see through rose-tinted glasses. In many ways that is good. To dwell on the hard things in life brings a heaviness of spirit hard to shake. Believe me, I know: my life in many ways has not been easy. Dwelling on the good was one way I learned to cope.
I thank the Lord a thousand times over for the blessings He has brought into my life these past few months. In some ways it seems the end of my story is “and they lived happily ever after” for I truly am deeply happy in my new life and marriage. But on the other hand, I know my story has hardly even begun: many roads lie ahead that I have yet to travel. And certainly these past eight months have not been all roses: illness, miscarriage, and a long,cold winter in an unknown land. Yet God has been more than faithful through it all.
It is so easy to think that once we get married everything will be good. That hardships will grow easier and life will be rosy most of the time. That “happily ever after” will begin the day we say, “I do”. But what if something happens and happily ever after is not there like we thought it would be?
In my church back homeI knew a beautiful and godly young woman not much older than me. She had married the son of one of our pillar families: someone everyone admired and looked up to. They seemed so happy and she was such a godly example of womanhood to us all. And then one day, when their first little son was still very young, he just left….left his family, his church, and his wife. We all prayed fervently and hoped for restoration–she more than any of us–and for several years she waited. We all shook our heads and wondered how this could happen to her of all people. Even in the backs of minds that should have known better, we somehow fell prey to the belief that “happily ever after” should have been her reward. Did God not see her faithfulness?
Let me say this once very clearly: “Happily ever after” is not a reward for godliness. Marriage is not a reward for a life lived in obedience. Just because you do everything the “right” way, and wait patiently for God’s timing, for God’s direction, for God’s mate, does not guarantee that the path before you will be smooth.
Trials await every child of God: if you are not experiencing them now, you will. Godly families lose jobs, lose health, lose children, lose husbands and wives every day. We know this but we like to forget. We don’t ever like to think that we could be the next Job whom God allows bad things to happen to. We wince because these are such gloomy thoughts. But James says to “consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” Why? Because the testing of our faith produces something of far greater worth than a life lived happily ever after. It produces perfection in the truest sense of the word. A life hidden in Christ and sanctified for His glory. A life He is able to use.
Is our longing for a happy ending necessarily a bad thing? No, I think this is a holy longing as we wait for heaven and our true “happily ever after” in eternity. But it can cause us to lose our focus and forget what is really important–living life to the fullest now not someday. Do not pine for what others have been given, for with their blessings will come trials designed for them and their sanctification. Embrace life: the good and the bad. You might just find that your “happily ever after” has already begun.