I’ve been on a fiction kick lately. When I finish each book and put it down (or turn off my Kindle), I think about how satisfied I am with the ending. What did I like about it? What did I not like about it? If I didn’t like it, how should it have ended? I eventually noticed a theme in the endings.
The best stories end with hope.
Even the saddest stories (like The Fault in Our Stars or The Great Gatsby) ultimately end with hope for at least one of the characters. The Twilight series, the Harry Potter series, the Hunger Games series … the final paragraphs give us hope. (The Divergent series ends less hopeful than most, which may be why I didn’t like the ending.) Even the great Dumbledore himself said, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Turning on the light gives hope.
Good memoirs and biographies end the same way good fiction does. And in the greatest story ever recorded about real life events, we find hope after betrayal, rejection, abuse, and death.
When the women went to anoint Jesus’ dead body with oil, what did they find? When Peter, who had denied Jesus three times, ran to the tomb, what did he find? When Thomas reached out his hand to touch the holes where the nails had been in Jesus’ hands, what did he find?
All good stories have hope. And all true stories too. Jeremiah 29:11 was written to the Jewish people who were in exile. When they woke up each morning, they didn’t see a way out of their situation. It was hopeless. But the Lord said, “I know the plans I have for you … plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” God has a plan for your future too, and it includes hope.