Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Right Kind of Ending (Part Three)

We finished Tolkien on Friday (which, I might state, I would like to do again in future. I forgot to mention the BBC radio dramas, all my favorite quotes, and some very important plot lines.) And today we finish Tuesday's series The Right Kind of Ending, with the discussion of the happy and sad endings.
You might wonder why the ending of a book is so important--after all, most of us would agree that the type of ending, as to whether or not the characters are happy, is very crucial. But tastes differ. Some of us enjoy happy, some enjoy bittersweet, and some (I would think) enjoy the tragedies. If it's a matter of taste, then why develop discuss the whys and wherefores concerning each one?

Simply because Christ is the Alpha and the Omega--the Beginning and the End. And each complete story is a tiny imitation of His Story--the story of mankind's redemption. And we need to make sure that the beginnings and endings are in conformance to His standards.

So let us finish this series by discussing the Happy and Sad endings. And I like to end on a happy note, so let's start with the sad first.

Sad Endings
First of all, how do sad ending differ from bittersweet? After all, the terms are pretty similar. But like all similarities, there is still just enough difference to separate them. Here's how I would do so. Think of someone you love that has died and is now in Heaven.  Their life on earth is ended. We recognize that while we are grieving for our loss, they are rejoicing before the Lord. It's bittersweet because while our grief is legitimate, we place most of the emphasis on their happiness. Now if we recognize their happiness, but placed the emphasis on our grief, then it would simply be sad. Sad endings place the main emphasis on the sacrifice instead of the outcome. The love lost, instead of the love yet to come. The here and now, instead of the Life To Be. And this sad ending is also different from the depressing ending. The depressing ending recognizes nothing worthwhile to come; it's over. The sad ending simply shrinks from the peeking rays of sunshine. It wallows in its grief. It knows that eventually healing will come, but it would prefer that it never does.

So is a sad ending good--worthwhile to read? Well again, it depends on the book, and I'm not sure how many of these I've read. If you'd like to give me a suggestion of a book that fits the above description, I would be interested to look it up. ;) But evaluating the Sad Ending based upon the description only, it focuses on man--man's pain, man's grief, man's sacrifice--rather than the purpose for the pain. And it's never right to live in the grief without recognizing the joy in the loss and giving thanks for the result of the martyrdom. The sad ending doesn't focus on the reward of goodness that God is not unrighteous to forget. Nor does it remind us that our trials are but for a time, that the trials of our faith produce good character, or any comforting reassurances that Biblical works contain. It simply focuses on the here and now, and that's not a Christian way to focus. We're to look at the eternal outcome in everything we do.

Now can we gain some benefits from reading a book like this, to learn by negative example? Well, yes, that is a possibility. And sometimes we do have to learn by negative example. Sometimes the negative outcomes of poor choices are a good warning. The Bible teaches us by both negative and positive examples, so it's a legitimate question. Time and time again in His Word, God lays forth the blessings and the curses, the negatives and the positives. But I think for the most part we should learn from the positive example, so that we do right out of love for our Lord, and courage in the face of difficulty, rather than fear of the consequences. Such Sad Endings have their value upon occasion, but not for a constancy. And they would be better worked into a subplot then as the difficulty of the main character.

I'm still formulating thoughts on this one, so I would love any input, critiquing, or further thoughts on some possible benefits of sad endings.

Happy Endings

Recall, if you will, the first paragraph in my beginning post on this series:

I closed the book I was reading, and sighed happily. I had good reason to, of course, for the couple were going to live, well, not 'happily ever after' for that would imply a fairy-tale type existence. But--yes, I guess that was what it amounted to. Not the cheesy, fluffy, frothy, happily-ever-after, but the good homespun variety. The happily-ever-after with substance in which they love each other even when the loving gets tough, when times are hard, when they don't know where the next meal is coming from.

That kind of happiness.

And I thought to myself, as I closed the book: was that good?

The happy ending has been described as 'the unrealistic' 'the fairy-tale type' 'the icing on the cake' and so forth. But is it so unrealistic as we think?

When I finished this particular book I mentioned, I had a revelation. Just a tiny one. While the bittersweet endings best depict Jesus' work here on earth, the happy endings best depict our future with him in Heaven. Think about it: there can be no bittersweet-ness in heaven, because that implies pain, and we shall have no more pain.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
-Revelation 21: 3-5

 Joy is a good thing.  Pure, unsullied joy is the joy of Christ, and we should not scoff at it as unrealistic when an author depicts it in the form of a happy ending. A happy ending is a true and worthwhile book to spend our time on, for not only does it cultivate an attitude of hope and excitement, but it accurately shows--in a very tiny way--the happiness to come for those who believe in Jesus Christ.

And so, that one day when I was mulling over whether my perfect ending was completely satisfactory, I decided that it was. And I can't wait to read it again. :)

Whatever your endings today, may they point you to the redemption of Christ on earth, and the hope of his glory in Heaven.

Lady Bibliophile


  1. Dear Sister,
    I really liked this series. Happily ever after... (happy sigh):) Wonderful post!
    Love, Sister

  2. I'm contemplating what you wrote about sad endings--and I think this thought goes along with it--tears, sadness, and grief are a part of things here on earth. But there is something more, something better that we'll get to experience someday. I'm still a testimony when I'm grieving. My thoughts and actions always line up with my beliefs--expressed and unexpressed:)!

    I was glad to be reminded of that today--thank you:)!

  3. Great post! I love it how you bring it all back to Scripture. Keep up the good work!

    Love, EH :)

  4. Many thanks for all your encouraging feedback! It's so good to have family and friends enjoy these posts . :)



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