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Middles and Endings

Middles and Endings

As a young girl, I was a Nancy Drew super-fan. I read and re-read all 56 volumes in the series, most of them in two days flat. Even today, I get a little excited when I see them on a bookshelf.

This past summer, my family and I stayed at an old inn on the remote Chebeague Island in Maine. Both the charm and the lack of air conditioning gave its age away. In the sitting room, there were shelves lined with antique books, including a few vintage copies of Nancy Drew books from the fifties. I felt a little flutter of delight when I spotted them and secretly wondered if anyone would notice if I read just one for old time’s sake.

Reading these mysteries late into the night as a child, there were many times when I would become scared. Every noise in the house made me jump and it was difficult to find the courage to walk down the hall to the bathroom by myself if need be. Eventually, I formed a strategy for those moments in which I was unable to take the suspense. When the fear became overwhelming, I would turn to the back of the book and read the last couple of pages. You might be horrified by this confession, but I just needed to know that everything was going to be okay. Knowing the end, gave me the courage I needed for the middle.

As an adult, I often crave this same assurance in my own life story. My husband and I have walked through five miscarriages in the last five years and received news of a diagnosis that makes loss the more likely outcome with every pregnancy.

Hope feels scary in the absence of a future that can be guarded with guarantees.

I want to know that everything is going to be okay in the end before I walk through the messy middle that is wrought with unknowns with the possibility of more disappointment. What if I pour in all the effort and I fail in the end? What if I take a chance on hope, only to be heartbroken? What if I dream and the reality of my life looks nothing like the dream?

In the first chapter of Luke, we read about the angel Gabriel visiting Zechariah and telling him that after years of his wife, Elizabeth, being unable to conceive, and in spite of their old age, they would have a son whom they would call John. Gabriel told Zechariah,

There will be joy and delight for you, and many will rejoice at his birth. — Luke 1:14

I can only imagine that in the face of the facts and his personal experience of the past, Zechariah felt this happy news was too good to be true. It must have been difficult to hold onto hope in the middle without knowing the end. He heard the very promise he had always longed to hear, and yet he couldn’t trust it. He replied,

How can I know this? — Luke 1:18

His focus on his own reality left him demanding assurance before he was willing to take a chance on hope.

Gabriel answered his plea by describing who he was and the God he served:

I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God. — Luke 1:19

He answered Zechariah’s doubt not with reason or argument but by telling Zechariah who he was.

It is difficult to hold hope and to trust God’s promises before we know the outcome — before we know that it’s all going to be okay. It can be hard to find courage in the middle when we haven’t yet read the end. Perhaps, like me, you are in a season in which it is easier for the feelings to feel stronger than the faith. Walking forward with what we know to be true in spite of how we feel is terrifying — until we remember that we already know the ending.

As Christians, we hold the gift of knowing how it’s all going to turn out, knowing it’s going to be okay.

If my personal experience was all there was, hope would be a gamble at best. But it’s not all I have, I know — we know — how the story ends. The entire Bible is testimony to God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. Unlike the disciples who grieved Jesus’ death on Friday and who mourned in hopeless anguish on Saturday with no promise of Sunday, we sit in the privileged seat of knowing what happened on the third day — and what will happen on the last day. Jesus’ death and resurrection gives us the gift of knowing that the darkness will lift. We can feel confident that what we can see is not all there is.

When Christ conquered death, He made hope a good idea. It means that in the midst of pain we can hold a promise. It means that no waiting will ever leave us wanting for a hope that’s out of reach. We know the end. And this ending is the hope we need for all of life’s middles.

Written for Devotionals Daily by Nicole Zasowski, author of From Lost to Found.

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Your Turn

Are you worried about how things are going? Maybe your circumstances look frightening, or upside down, or just a complete mystery to you compared to what you expected and wanted. You can hold a promise. Because of Jesus, no matter what, we can know the ending. Hold onto hope! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you about the middles that confuse and the ending we are promised. ~ Devotionals Daily