Reading has always been a pleasure of mine. After the introduction of characters in a story book, the plot develops and the action builds to a slightly unsettling, but exciting high point. Then, the action turns and slows to the point of resolution, a satisfyingly happy ending. All is well.
Except when it isn’t.
What about the story that doesn’t have a happy ending? A friend recently told me that her least favorite book ever was “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte. My friend never read this book again, because the ending was so depressing. I admit that I have no desire to read such a book; I want the standard plot with the happy ending.
A life with chronic illness has characters and a plot, but the action follows a much different pattern than the standard story. It plods along like the books I never finished because they were so boring. Sure, there are times when the action rises, but when it falls again, it returns to the same ebb and tide of daily life with pain and fatigue. There is no satisfaction of everything reaching a happy resolution. It is not a desirable book for others to read.
Every so often, a potential reader will ask the awkward question, “How are you doing?” What am I to say? The truthful statement, “I’m still doing about the same,” seems to deter further conversation with the friend from my former life. She knows the depths my illness has reached and lovingly does not want me to continue to experience that pain any longer. She wants a happy ending for me. The unread book is back on the shelf for now, wondering how to respond to the next potential reader.
Others with chronic illness have expressed thoughts similar to mine. In response to the “how are you doing” question, one person referenced Jack Nicholson’s famous line from the movie, “A Few Good Men.” I’m not sure the statement, “You can’t handle the truth,” would be my response, but I am starting to think that many, but not all, people don’t want to know the truth. It is hard to know someone is suffering. I am so thankful for the dedicated readers who are committed to the main character of my story, because they love the Author.
Jesus explains that we will have trouble in this world (John 16:33). It is part of the story, and the plot may stay that way for a long time. Jesus’ story included a lifetime of rejection with a brutally painful last day. Many put the book of Jesus on the shelf in favor of prospects that appear to have happier endings. However, Jesus’ answer to the question, “How are you doing,” is “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33), the happiest possible ending.
Like Jesus, I want my potential readers to know that my story includes a happy ending despite the plodding nature of the plot. Even though the circumstances of my life are not all pleasant, it is well with my soul. As one of His, there will come a day when I will be where Jesus is in heaven. The struggles in my story will be resolved. I will have reached The Happy Ending.
If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.