Posted by: JennyRain | August 12, 2006

The Myth of the Happy-Ending

America is obsessed with happy endings.

From a young age we are taught that “things work themselves out.” Childhood books contain a moral, movie-plots contain a miraculous protagonist-saving-ending, and symphonic notes resolve. The best man wins, the underdog comes out on top, Superman arrives just in the nick of time, and justice is served.

This obsession has even snuck into the back door of churches as the demand for a happy ending keeps many a pastor focused more on heart-warming sermons instead of the salvation of dead souls. A consistent helping of happy endings keeps us nourished and satisfied. Even salvation itself has been deconstructed into an easily-digested formula:

My life BEFORE Jesus = confused, awful, chaotic, I was a mess!
My life AFTER Jesus = perfect, I obey and I’m blessed beyond the rest!

But what do we do if the happy ending never comes?

I know Katrina families who are still struggling to make ends meet. CNN is not running stories on them. I know women who have been crying out to Jesus for children for years, yet they are still waiting. I know faithful fathers who have lost the battle to cancer only to then leave their family penniless because insurance companies did not pay out as promised. Several a 46-year old who has followed Jesus her entire life is still single, and longing for a mate. Many a missionary has pursued God’s call only to find themselves in a foreign country tired, hungry, broke, and alone without one soul saved after years of service. Children in Africa die every 3 minutes from AIDS, Genocide, and poverty, having lived an entire existence without parents to care for them.

An overabundance of happy endings has made America numb. Numb to the needs of the world, numb to their inner brokenness, and numb to the feeling of discomfort that might just pull each of us out of the anesthitization of our souls long enough to make an impact.

Happy endings numb us to the fact that people we love, according to Edwards, are headed for a gruesome future..

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire…is dreadfully provoked…and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. “There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.”

Johnathan Edwards… Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

(Enfield, CT; July 8, 1741)

The happy ending to the sermon? God hasn’t let go yet. 



  1. Wow. YOu don’t mess around, do you girl?! REally, this was so thought provoking that I’m referring to your blog on my blog. melanie

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