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Posted by on Apr 21, 2014 in Uncategorized | 22 comments

Happy endings don’t erase suffering. And I wouldn’t want them to.

382898_3059916259499_744821721_nA friend of mine lost his wife last June.  Someone told him “Everything will be ok in the end.  If it’s not ok, it’s not the end.”  He found it comforting.

Do we ever want to say that sudden, premature death of a mother with a 6 year old is ok?  How could the passage of time do that?  Do we even want that?

Throughout our culture, in politics, movies, books and bedtime stories, we are told about happy endings.  Of course, it is sometimes reasonable to think that things will improve.  There is no reason to be dogmatic that life is always a vale of tears; we know that life is often wonderful.  ‘Everything will be ok in the end’ reminds us that everything passes.  But that’s not the same thing as saying that things will be ok. 

Happy endings have the effect of discounting our real, present suffering.  No happy ending will change the past.  We have suffered!  That shouldn’t be forgotten!  The only way to make the past ok is to wipe it from our memories.  In the movie Men in Black, the agents used neuralyzers to wipe memories from the minds of people who witnessed their activities.  But few of us would use one on ourselves.  We recognize that our past is real and valuable.  We work to minimize suffering, but once it occurs, there is something sacred about remembering it.  Our experience can help others, but only if we remember.

 

And we need to ask why should happiness have to wait?  It could be quite the reverse.  Life can start out blissfully and end in tragedy.  We know that happens sometimes.  But ‘everything will be ok in the end’ seems to say that, despite appearances, there will always be a happy ending.  We just need to be patient.  Why do some people like to say this?  Are they justified?

One way to be ‘ok’ is to fiddle with what ‘ok’ means.  But if ‘ok’ can mean anything at all, it means nothing at all.  How could it possibly be ok for a kid to be tortured, no matter what the eventual outcome?  Emotional healing requires that we live in reality, so we must eventually accept difficult facts.  But we don’t have to say they are ok.  No loving person would say that torture or genocide is ok.  The idea seems to be that bad things are not ok, but that they are temporary.  But what reason do we have to think that bad things will eventually stop happening? 

Well, we know one thing:  we will die.  Death is a loss, but that includes losing the bad stuff.  Most of us don’t think of death as ‘ok’, though.  We’re willing to put up with some bad stuff to have the good stuff in life.  Most of the time, we think the good outweighs the bad, and that there is no way in life to have one without the other.  But this statement suggests we can do just that, but only at ‘the end’.  Life can be ‘ok’, but only when it’s over. 

Here’s where the afterlife comes in.  But it doesn’t solve anything.  Infinite bliss in the hereafter doesn’t, and shouldn’t, cancel the real, present suffering of a 4 year old who has been beaten to death by his mom’s boyfriend over a period of 3 days.  To say that his torture was ok because it is now over is to neuralyze ourselves to feel better.  This is cowardly and callous.  That kid endured his pain unbuffered.  The very least we can do is not downplay it now to comfort ourselves.

Then we have the notion that suffering is somehow necessary to reach certain goals.  But we know there are many ways to happiness.  We all look for the least painful way to get through our lives.  It seems that we sometimes engage in post-hoc rationalization.  Once suffering occurs, we declare that it was necessary after the fact.  Nick Vujicic says that being born without arms and legs has been a great blessing for him.  But we don’t find people removing their limbs to achieve fulfillment.  No, this guy only says that because he’s trying to make the best of things, and he goes a little overboard.  http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/

I don’t think death or suffering are ever ok.  They are our enemies.  Without life and freedom from intense suffering, none of the things we care about can occur.  That’s why we exercise, eat right, sober up, stop smoking, build hospitals and wear seat belts.  We can say death is natural, but so is mental illness.  So, we’re stuck.  If a thing is ever going to be ‘ok’, it will have to be ok in the here and now.  And if it’s not ok now, it never will be.

Bad things (and good things) happen.  It is a disservice to those who die young or suffer horrendously to say that ‘everything will be ok in the end’.  Much in life is not ok and we wouldn’t want to say it is, or ever will be.  But we can still cultivate the good stuff while helping each other through the bad stuff.  And we can do it without saying there will always be a happy ending.  We can hold on to each other and face life’s worst together.  And we can multiply our joy by savoring the many times that life is good, together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Shatterface

    Best quote I heard on happy endings is from the film Mr and Mrs Smith:

    ‘A happy ending is a story which hasn’t finished yet’

  • basha0423

    “You may not understand today or tomorrow but eventually God will reveal why you went through everything you did.” Author Unknown

    • donsevers

      The reasons don’t matter. Serial killers have reasons. The issue is whether God could have done with less suffering. It seems impossible that he could not have. In fact, we know he could have because some people suffer far less than others.

      https://www.facebook.com/notes/don-severs/the-lucky-people/10150368609164005

      • basha0423

        What are you talking about “reasons?” The quote I posted said nothing about reasons. You are an idiot. It’s quite simple, “You may not understand now but eventually it will be revealed, in life, why things happened the way they did.” God could have done with less suffering? Huh? Don’t blame God for any misfortunes. You are wrong in your comment and it lacks hope that is extended to others by attempts to comfort them in their pain. You are not clearly experienced enough to do this. Your comment is empty and void, full of despair. Very dark. We live in a world where there are things we will never understand. The human weak nature is to automatically blame someone or something for it instead of just accepting it – like you. Move on. There is another quote, “Accept the things you cannot change; courage to change the things you can; and have the wisdom to know the difference.” I speak from personal experience. I don’t have the time to talk of the things that have happened to me in my life that involved tragedy and pain. Not that I would tell YOU in order for you to understand. I just don’t share this with insensitive bloaks such as yourself.

        • donsevers

          >What are you talking about “reasons?”

          “Reasons” was a reply to your comment “eventually God will reveal why”. ‘Why’ is a request for reasons.

          >Don’t blame God for any misfortunes.

          Give God some credit. With great power comes great responsibility. You can’t have it both ways. If God set this world in motion, he carries responsibility for what happens. We know this is true because he left some awful things out, and included others.

          • basha0423

            So, you are holding God accountable? The God who created the Universe. Are you serious? WHO are you, so small, to stand there with a stick and tell him that He’s accountable for all that happens. You do know that you don’t have to wake up in the morning don’t you Don? He’s keeping you alive. God allows things to happen and those reasons as to why He does this are His alone. He left nothing out. He did everything perfect. There is nothing to question. I rest in His sovereignty and rejoice in this confidence. I’m sorry that you do not and that you are leading others astray to believe the same.

          • donsevers

            Good point, Barbara. If God is real, then He’s Boss. That’s the message of Job: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”

            But this is an appeal to power, not Goodness. Goodness requires that even God meet some standard, and it must be a standard besides Himself. Otherwise, God could order opposite things and we’d have to say they were both good!

            If we do that, then we give up something very dear: Goodness itself. If Goodness can mean opposite things, then Goodness means nothing. Then you’re simply saying “God is God. Deal with it.”

            But God could be real and still be unworthy of our devotion. If you’re an Authoritarian, fine. But if you care about fairness, for example, God comes out wanting. Because God is not fair. I don’t need perfect knowledge to know this. I can see it.

          • basha0423

            God meets NO standard. Again, who are YOU to say that He does? He is God. His point with Job is not that of God proving His power. He’s not human in that sense like humans are so I can see why it’s so difficult for you to wrap your brain around that let alone being a man. Men love power and they are quick to put other men in their place when they don’t respect the power that they hold. God is a good God. He is the essence of goodness. All the time. God orders nothing. He allows things to happen but He cannot override the decisions of others. Did you not read when I said that if a person chooses to drive drunk and kills an innocent family, then that is the result and consequence of the choice of the individual who drank too much and drove his car drunk. You cannot blame that on God. He doesn’t control that. It’s not that God COULD be real Don. He IS real and very worthy of our devotion. I don’t know what an Authoritarian is. Spare the big words. I have never labeled what I believe. When God touches your heart there are no categories or labels. Fairness is not what it’s all about Don and if that’s what you think then you’ve missed out your entire life on something so very special and I have compassion on you for that. God doesn’t come out wanting. God IS fair. You are correct. You don’t need perfect knowledge to understand the things of God. You just need faith. You have it but it’s in the wrong stuff. May your eyes be opened to the truth one day. That is my prayer for you.

          • donsevers

            >God meets NO standard.

            Careful here. If God meets no standard, then it means nothing to say he is good, or loving or fair. All of those things derive their meaning because there is a standard of measure for them, and that it is possible to fail to be good, loving or fair.

            A CPA is a CPA because she has passed her exams, and she could have failed them! That way, once she passes, it means something to say she’s a CPA.

            This has nothing to do with my manhood. It has nothing to do with me at all. It has to do with the meanings of words.

          • basha0423

            God does not and will not meet the standards of His creation. He says to be holy as He is holy but that’s the standard. We are not to BE Him but to be LIKE Him but guess what? Man wants to do his own thing in his own way in his own timing and refuses to be told what to do. It started in the Garden of Eden when man sinned and ate from the tree that God told him not to. There is nothing new. Man will continue to be disobedient. You speak of science in all of your words and science has no place in this so keep that separate. God doesn’t “test” us with exams in order to see if we pass like a CPA. Good grief. He doesn’t sit on His throne waiting for us to fail. That’s like having really bad parents that tell you to go to college but that it won’t do any good and then wait for you to not succeed. You really have a screwed up idea of who God is and the sad part is that you are teaching this to your “followers” who I do not even care to respond to because you have poisoned their minds. No point. This has everything to do with you being man and being disobedient in that nature. This has everything to do with you Don and what you believe and the minds that you are poisoning in the process.

          • donsevers

            I have no power to lead people astray. I’m only sharing my loss-of-faith journey, plus some observations that are common to everyone.

            If someone leaves God behind because of this piece, I can’t take credit for that. But I’ll be happy about it, because your God is no friend of mine.

          • basha0423

            You DO have the power to lead people astray by the power of persuasion in what you believe that is not true. You are sharing those lies with people that are weak and need help. Shame on you. You’re sharing your loss of faith journey? Keep that to yourself. Share it when it’s for the Lord in leading people to Jesus Christ and not to hell. Observations that are common to everyone. Again, pffft. People leave God behind because of guys like you. And it doesn’t have to come from this particular piece. It comes from all of what you preach. God is a friend to all. I am sorry for the things that have happened to you in your life that have caused you to hate someone that loves you so much. God can’t do anymore other than to continue to love you just like a parent would. I had a child that hated me for a time and all I could do was wait for him to come around and he did. It is my prayer that whatever you are dealing with, is dealt with and that you are reconciled to God before it’s too late.

      • basha0423

        Crap link everybody. Don’t even bother. This man knows nothing about God. HIS god maybe but not THEE God.

        • donsevers

          >This man knows nothing about God.

          I have nothing to do with it. If I didn’t exist, horrendous suffering of innocents would still exist. God’s character is written in creation. And he seems to love suffering, especially of children.

          God ordained the Food Chain. What greater engine of suffering could there be? And this predated man, so you can’t blame it on Original Sin.

          • basha0423

            You exist only because God created you and loves you. That’s like turning on your mother, who gave birth to you in your anger and screamed in her face and told her that she doesn’t exist because you are mad at something she didn’t protect you from because life isn’t fair. Grow a set Don. You’re a big boy. God loves suffering children? Tell that to your cult following who now hate God even more because of that statement. You are unbelievable. Jesus says in his Word that anyone who welcomes a child, welcomes him. Jesus is God. God is Jesus. Why would God say that and then harm children. You again know nothing. God ordained the food chain huh? What’s THAT got to do with anything?? The food chain is meant for animals Don. Not humans. Did you just get rescued from an island? I will never wrap my brain around guys like you. I used to be a passionate Athiest but you’ve reached a new level my friend.

          • donsevers

            >The food chain is meant for animals Don. Not humans.

            Humans are animals. We participate in the food chain.

          • basha0423

            Humans ARE animals? God created us in HIS image Don. Not in the image of animals. This is almost comical now. Just because I eat chicken, it doesn’t make me a chicken. If I eat a cow, that doesn’t make me a cow. You say we become what we eat. What foolishness!

          • donsevers

            >That’s like turning on your mother, who gave birth to you in your anger and screamed in her face and told her that she doesn’t exist because you are mad at something she didn’t protect you from because life isn’t fair.

            I’m not saying God doesn’t exist. I’m saying that if he does exist, he’s not fair.

            My mother didn’t set the world in motion, so it wouldn’t make sense to be angry with her for life not being fair. That’s God’s doing.

          • basha0423

            You ARE saying that He doesn’t exist Don. You have consistently said, “IF” He exists and that’s the same thing. You aren’t even certain so the answer to that is probably, no. You keep playing with that. I will continually tell you that He is a fair God. Do I say to my mother that she’s not fair if I choose to drive drunk and kill someone? She gave birth to me right? She brought me into this world. It’s her fault she didn’t stop me from drinking too much right? When do we take responsibility and just accept the consequences without blaming? Do I say to my mother or father they aren’t fair if I make the wrong choices? Do I blame my parents? Certainly not. When I am a child, maybe, because they are to protect me like all parents should protect their children. But when you become an adult you take responsibility for your actions and you don’t blame God. He loves us but He cannot override the evil decisions of another.

          • basha0423

            I am using a mother in comparison to a loving parent. God is a loving God who cares for us just like a parent and more so. You have elevated God to a level that I can see why you have gone through life disappointed. If you knew Him you would understand but you don’t so it is understandable to see why you have blamed Him for everything. I like the way you deleted some of my comments in order to put a spin on what you want your followers to read. Typical of guys like you.

  • basha0423

    I just want to say that I used to be a “religious Athiest” just like you Don. But things changed and I pray the same for you. There is NO such thing as an Athiest by the way. Everyone believes in something. The bible says that God has placed in every heart the knowledge of Him. You’re just suppressing that. God isn’t a liar.

  • basha0423