A friend who has recently gone through a horrific tragedy and is dealing with enormous grief shared the following passage from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings on her Facebook page:
Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folks in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.
I find it interesting how words from a fictional world such as Tolkien’s “Middle Earth” can be so much more relevant and helpful in our “real world” than so many of the “words of wisdom” from this real world. Yet it is not really a surprise, since Tolkien’s story is rooted in the greatest story, the one that really matters the most, the true story revealed in the Bible. The Biblical narrative centers around the themes of creation, rebellion, redemption, and restoration, punctuated with periods of conflict, suffering and sorrow. Some folks think the Bible’s message is that if someone has faith in God and tries to be a good person, the Lord will bless the individual with health, wealth, and protection from troubles and tragedy. That simply is not the case. Rather, the Bible promises that in the midst of troubles and tragedy, God will always provide comfort and hope. It is this hope that enables us to keep going and to keep fighting, even when we are surrounded by deep darkness.
Friend, if you are feeling overwhelmed by troubles or crushed by tragedy, I urge you to remember the greatest story. As the Creator of all, God has a purpose and plan not just for the universe, but for your life as an individual. Yet even though God is both good and all powerful, human rebellion (sin) has resulted in a fallen world where suffering and sorrow are common. The difficulties you are going through do not mean God has forsaken you. Instead, out of love, God is graciously using the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem both individual sinners and a broken world. This salvation is experienced not by trying to merit God’s favor, but through trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Those who, by God’s grace, rely not on themselves, but Jesus, are promised ultimate restoration, which will be characterized by wholeness and eternal joy. God will one day bring us to our true home where there is no more death, mourning, crying, or pain. No matter how hard life is for you right now, this is hope that can keep you going. God’s plan for your life through Jesus is “the good” to which you can hold on, even when you feel like giving up.
Rev. Dan Erickson
Senior Pastor, Chisholm Baptist Church