Happily Ever After

“And they lived happily ever after!” That lovely phrase evocative of childhood fairy tales illustrates a hopeful desire within us, for there is a perpetual desire within the human heart for things to turn out good, not only in time, but in eternity. 

In the first Lord of the Rings movie “The Fellowship of the Ring,” during a quiet moment, Frodo Baggins and his friend Sam Wise Gamgee ponder a better time and place, should they be delivered from their reality of conflict, pain, and death. Frodo says: “How would this do: and they all settled down and lived together happily-ever-after?’ ‘It will do well, if it ever comes to that,’ Sam replies, ‘Ah! And where will they live? That’s what I often wonder.” 

Yes, we as human beings do dream about a happily-ever-after, but right next to us sits the realist who seeks to squash that dream by shouting, “There is no happily-ever-after.”  

And therein lies the rub. Our present reality is not “and they lived happily ever after”, but rather a cold hard statistic—one out of one die. For we live in a sin-cursed earth where nothing turns out good. In fact, all living things ultimately die. Can any experience be more final than death? No.

Yet, in spite of this sobering statistic, there is a paradox within the human condition that bears exploring. How is it that we who are trapped in time even think about eternity, pondering existence beyond the grave? Well, the writer of Ecclesiastes gave us a hint in Ecclesiastes 3:11 where the scripture states, “He has set eternity in their hearts.”

Throughout human history, philosophers, theologians and thinkers have addressed the afterlife. Theories, legends and ideas abound, but ultimately there is no consensus about what happens after we die. Yet, in spite of this uncertainty, there is a singular figure who is the authority on the afterlife, Jesus, our risen Lord! 

In John 11, we find Jesus raising Lazarus, who had been dead four days! In this narrative, Martha, after Jesus told her Lazarus would rise again [He spoke of that present situation], says to Jesus: “I know He’ll resurrect at the end of days,” referring to the future. Mary would have believed in resurrection because of the Old Testament revelation [i.e. Daniel 12:1-2, Psalm 49:15, Psalm 16:10].

Then Jesus said to her words that not only reverberated in that day, but to this very day, 

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).

Today, among the myriad problems humanity faces today, the one universal enemy of the human race is death. At the same time, the one singular answer to the universal enemy of death, man’s ultimate quandary, is found in the glorious resurrection of our Lord!

Paul spoke to resurrection’s ultimate victory when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:26: “the last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” Resurrection is final proof of God’s victory over the power of death and is assurance that there is a reality in the universe characterized by the words “and they lived happily ever after!” 

John describes a bit of this “happily-ever-after” in heaven, when he wrote:

“God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away”
(Revelation 21:3-4).

Jesus is the resurrection and the life and whoever believes in Him, though he may die, he will also live (John 11:25). Therefore, “and they lived happily ever after” is not a fairy tale, but a very truth, that truth being evidential and historical—the tomb is empty!

As we celebrate His resurrection in this season and share the wonders of the gospel with people, let us pray the Holy Spirit would give sight to the blind and ears to the deaf, that they would trust in His promise, believe in His provision and experience the “happily-ever-after”—that only life in the resurrected Christ can provide! Hallelujah!

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