I’m not sure where we got the idea that we wouldn’t face adversity. Many well meaning Godly men and women have grabbed ahold of principles about abundance, prosperity and healing and walk around like Job’s friends wondering what isn’t operating in a person’s life if they are going through a trying time. I hear expressions like, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” from folks who are longing for answers, for fairness from the universe. To quote The Princess Bride, (Rob Reiner, dir., 20th Century Fox, 1987), “Who said life is fair? Where is that written?” or “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
Every great love story holds within it the need to overcome obstacles. We grew up on fairy tales and somehow got the moral all wrong. True love conquers all. It’s true. Christ proved this on a cross many years ago. Yet, when we are young, we expect to grow up, meet a prince or rescue a princess, find a painless adventure and live happily ever after. We somehow forget that the phrase “happily ever after” denotes that there was something before the present and future that wasn’t so happy. We’ve come through all of this and now, we can begin enjoying the spoils of our victory.
Sleeping Beauty and Prince Phillip overcame a fire breathing dragon and eternal slumber before their happily ever after. Snow White spent time hiding in the forest from a murderer, was poisoned by a witch and was rescued by a team of unlikely heroes only to face death until her prince showed up before her happily ever after. Belle sacrificed everything to save her father. Cinderella suffered slavery and persecution. Ariel and Eric fought a sea witch. Jasmine and Aladdin conquered an evil sorcerer. There’s always peril preceeding the victory.
Real life isn’t so different. I know so many men and women who have overcome tremendous odds in life and fight on. These men and women are the true heroes: The young man I know who lost both legs in a motorcycle accident who lives his life on prosthetics and lives to the fullest in spite of the circumstances, The wonderful woman at my church who suffers from MS yet volunteers consistently, offers a smiling face to those who walk in the door despite the pain she suffers consistently. The mother of seven I call my friend whose newborn twins battled RSV shortly after birth leaving one of them with cerebral palsy. She is light and life where others would falter. There’s the lovely lady I know who is battling cancer who through the agony breathes words of life and love to all those she encounters. There’s the woman I know who lost her baby at 26 weeks gestation and despite the heartbreak, she’s strong. She teaches toddlers the love of God every Sunday. She is a warrior. These are heroes. In their eyes true joy is evident.
My life was not always easy. I grew up in poverty. My family fell apart. My stepmother battled alcoholism and paid with her life at a very young age. My father was a thousand miles away. I married an addict, who abused me emotionally for years and chose substances and other women over me. I went through a divorce. But I am a fighter and refused to give up or give in to the pain. The journey is far too precious for that. My happily ever after didn’t depend on my circumstances. My happily ever after began the day I met Christ. He has carried me through every moment and blessed me abundantly in the midst of them all.
For me and most princesses, there is a happy ending. I have met my prince, I’m carried in the arms of a loving savior. I’m blessed with incredible children and the joy of building my very own fairy tale with my family. Everyday, I pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming. I’m blessed and I’m overflowing with joy. But I know the rains will come. Not everyday is perfect, but real contentment can be found in the middle of the worst situations through the love and refuge of a comforter, Emmanuel, God with us.
Paul was stoned, shipwrecked, beaten with rods and so much more, yet he fought on with joy! It seems to me that bad things may happen to bad people sometimes, but they definitely happen to good people also. Into every life, rain will fall on both the just and the unjust. It’s how we handle the adversity that matters. Jesus Christ is our joy and we can begin our happily ever after right now.