Faith Is Not A Fairy Tale
Today’s assignment is fairly simple. In the following paragraph I am going to provide you with a list. Your task? Read the list and then name the two common elements uniting all the individual items in the list. Got it? Good deal. Here’s the list.
Little Red Riding Hood… Jack and the Beanstalk… Goldie Locks and the Three Bears… Puss in Boots… Cinderella… The Ugly Duckling… The Three Little Pigs… The Little Mermaid… Beauty and the Beast…
That’s the complete list (as best I can remember). I’m sure some of you could probably think of a few more but I imagine that most of you have already figured out the two common elements (Pssst… Look at the photo if you need a hint 😉 ). But just in case you are still contemplating this complex and confusing conundrum I will provide you with the solution. First of all, they are all popular fairy tales. And secondly, they were all made into either an animated short or a feature film by Disney. As a result, they all actually share a third common element. (Don’t worry. I only asked you to name two.) In each instance, Disney made absolutely sure that the end of each one of these fairy tales was a happy one. But to be honest, who can blame them? No one likes to go to the movies to see a sad ending. Each of wants the final scene to play out to the ever-popular sentiment, “They lived happily ever after.”
For years I have found myself amazed by the number of believers who confuse faith and fairy tales. I’m not sure how it happened but somewhere along the way we managed to embrace the mistaken notion that “faith” was a free pass that exempted us from the hardships of daily living. Maybe it was ignorance. Maybe it was bad theology. Maybe it was wishful thinking. I’m not sure. But there are entire segments of Christianity today that still profess, confess, and desperately cling to a “pie-in-the-sky, never-say-die, roses-and-butterflies” theology of human existence. They deny suffering. They denounce difficulty. They refuse to acknowledge that in this world we will have tribulations, trials, testings, and tumultuous times of trouble. In my opinion, I think they’re living in a “fairy tale” world.
Take a look at the first verse of Ruth. “Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land.” From the very beginning of this short story we are reminded that life isn’t always simple. God sets the stage in the book of Ruth by telling us that famine came to the land, specifically God’s land. Did you catch that point? Faith didn’t exempt His people from the hardships that are part and parcel of living in this sin-fallen world. The famine that struck the land impacted believers and unbelievers alike. God’s people didn’t get a free pass. They didn’t receive a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. They experienced the same lack. They felt the same hunger. They faced the same potentially devastating dilemma. Their life was anything but a “fairy tale.”
Now, I know that seems like a strange point to start out a blog. If you ask me, it’s an even stranger place to start out a book of the Bible. But that’s what God chose to do. Why? I like to think God wanted to remind us that we will all encounter difficult times this side of eternity. Think about it. In Matthew 7 the same storm came to both the wise and the foolish man. The wise man’s obedience didn’t afford him an exemption from hardship and adversity. That wasn’t the point of separation. The difference between the two men was what happened in the aftermath. When the wind finally stopped blowing only one man’s home was still standing.
In the book of Ruth, God sets forth a similar idea from the very first verse. The story starts off with a famine that threatened the entire land. It was a very real problem that His people had to confront. And therein, lies a critical truth. The point of faith is not to circumvent life. Rather, faith is that power that enables us to face life in all it’s fury and find ourselves still standing once it’s all “said and done.”
Maybe that’s where you find yourself right now. Maybe your life is anything but a “fairy tale” right now. Perhaps “famine” is a better description for your present circumstances. If that’s so, I want to encourage you to take heart. Ruth started off in the worst of times. But it ended in the best of times. God would set the stage with difficult and desperate times. But the final curtain would close amid rejoicing and great celebration. Never forget that our God causes all things to work together for good. That means even the times that seem like they’ll never end “happily ever after.”