The Myth of Happily Ever After

By February 24, 2022Weekly Update

Dear Gatherers,

No matter where the story is set and who the lead character may be—whether princess, fawn, or lion cub—the formula remains the same. Life is fine until an evil force disrupts everything. There’s usually a curse or test of some kind, a villain lurking in the shadows, a need for love to light the way. Then (very quickly, with great fanfare) the pieces come together. Things aren’t merely restored to normal; they’re even better than before! Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme…

Disney may be the happy ending’s greatest merchandizers, but they surely didn’t invent it. Research shows we’re hard-wired to expect things will end better than they started. If stories and experiences end on a sour note, we avoid returning to them no matter how much pleasure we had prior to the final turn. So, in a way, it’s understandable why the Book of Job’s editors want a happy ending. Over and over, Job insists his faithfulness has no ulterior motive. He’s not in it for the blessings. He knows he’s not being punished because he’s done no wrong. And yet, in the end, the book contrives to give him more than he started out with. His faithfulness is rewarded.

This raises some very interesting questions. Is our insistence on happy endings a biological compulsion we can’t override? Would we even be reading this story if it were left in its apparent original form—a long, unwieldy conversation about divine justice—without the riches-to-rags/rags-to-riches framework that likely was added later? Is faithfulness for its own sake even possible if we can’t help expecting a big finale?

This coming Thursday we’ll end what has been one of our most challenging and exciting series yet, looking at big questions we’ve encountered in Job. The happy ending may actually be in what we discover about our own faithful living! Join us at 7:30p CST for another great discussion.

Peace and blessings,
Pastor Tim