It Doesn't Have to End There

I just finished watching the Scott Peterson movie. The one about how he got arrested for murdering his wife. I can believe sinful things like this happen because I know it's a sinful world, but that doesn't make the pain and disgust at it go away. And it shouldn't. It makes me long for the day when Christ comes and makes everything good and perfect.

Without pain.

I did not expect this movie to have hope or end well. How does a story like this end well? It doesn't. Unless, of course, you can find Jesus. But this movie wasn't about Christianity; I knew that. So I really didn't expect this movie to make me feel good when I was done watching it. And yet I watched it anyway.

Scott had this one friend in the movie. I don't know if this was the case in the real scenario or not, but he had this friend that stuck by him literally the entire movie. You could say he was in denial about the situation. No matter how hard people pressed him or the cops gave him evidence that Scott had, in fact, murdered his wife, he still wanted to believe Scott was innocent. He refused to believe Scott was guilty until it was totally, utterly proven. He said that the Scott he knew would never do that.

It wasn't until the end of the movie that they finally arrested Scott out of town. When they brought him back in a police car, all of these people were waiting and protesting or whatever it was, and they were banging on the car as they drove by and screaming and holding up signs that said GUILTY or something along those lines. And they showed this friend . . . they showed him, and he met eye contact with Scott in the car. He was the last person they drove by. Even then, this friend looked like he was shocked. Just, I don't even know, like he just couldn't comprehend what Scott had done.

I knew the movie wasn't going to end well.  There were only about five minutes left at that point, and so I could do nothing but watch at how this horrific story came to its hopeless, inevitable ending.

The friend . . . went home. And he listened to his voicemail. He had a message from Scott. Basically it said that he was in jail, and I don't remember the rest of it even. What I remember and probably will never forget is how that friend, now knowing this was reality and was going to be the reality of the situation, collapsed to the ground and sobbed.

I also remember an earlier scene where the mother of the murdered wife watched the television screen as they shared all of these details, and she just sat there and wailed. And I do mean WAILED.

The movie ended where they show Scott walking into a cell in a neon orange jumpsuit, and they pause at his dazed, checked out, hopeless face.

And that's how it ends.

And I mean what did I expect? The even sadder reality is that this messed up situation is just one of many unfolding in our world. It's awful. Nothing good comes from this.* The family of the wife is now grieving that they lost their daughter, and they shouldn't have. They trusted Scott, and look at what he'd done. Then we have the people who loved Scott, especially this one friend, coming to the terms that Scott had done what he'd done, and that would be absolutely horrible, coming to terms with that conclusion. That someone you'd loved and believed in and trusted had done something so horrible.

And it was just so stupid of Scott because it did not have to be that way. The whole reason he even killed his wife will ultimately not even matter because he was thrown in prison, where he still is. Oh, and did I mention his wife was pregnant and about to deliver their baby?!

I won't go into the details of the story. There was this whole affair thing on Scott's part, and it was just yucky and sinful in so many ways.

I've mentioned here on this blog about my growing interest in prison ministry and how there is a situation right now where a kid murdered another kid over some love thing too. I am so sick of stories having to end this way.

I love to tell stories. I absolutely love writing, I love fiction, and I love telling stories.

But I like to tell real stories.

I don't want to write sappy romance novels. I don't want to write some new phenomenon intended just for entertainment or whatever. When I write, I want my words to reflect real life. Real situations. Real realities, whether we like them or not.

And real hope.

I see all these books where a certain someone or a certain something saved someone's life. There are books about love and relationships, how a certain person saved the other's life, brought them hope, blah, blah blah, blah blah. And there's all these quotes in our society, "Believe it and achieve it!" And there's name-it-and-claim-it preachers that are all about having FAITH and you will be HEALED and EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE AND DANDY IN YOUR LIFE! And if you come to Jesus, he will fulfill all of your desires and help you reach your dreams! And you're in control of your life, and live! And do what you want to do because it's short!

Oh, stop.

I would LOVE to hear one of those people go talk to a prisoner. I think it would be quite interesting to hear what their words of wisdom would be. Do you think they'd even HAVE hope to offer? Probably not, because by the world's standards, the same world coming up with these ridiculous ideas of hope, is the world that hates, and I do mean HATES, prisoners. So if you ask them, they probably don't give a rip. Let them rot, they say. Let them get the death penalty, they say. Let them burn in hell, they say. They blew it, they say. They don't deserve happiness, they say.

Or I suppose you could have someone that will tell them, well if you just think GOOD VIBES and take charge of your happiness, or maybe if you have enough faith in God, He'll get you out of prison, but only if you truly wholeheartedly believe that.

I like to write sad stories. I really do! I like writing stories like THIS, where EVERYTHING is taken, and the hope is gone.

Because, what I have learned, is that: that is where God steps in. That is where His glory shines bright. And that is where I get the opportunity to write about that.

I'm not going to write you some pretty little stories that promise you will have a pretty perfect little life because YOU ARE NOT GOING TO. I'm not going to write you a fairytale story that lets you escape your problems for awhile, because you don't need to escape; what you need to do is face them head on. So I will write you stories that might make you cry. Maybe it's because you realize that's reality. That's life. That's our world. Or maybe the story will resonate with a problem in your life. But at the end, I hope and pray you will be crying because there is hope. And that hope is not illogical or based on fairytale beliefs or just wishful thinking.

There are real, dark situations in this world. This world is real, and it is cruel. But there is also a real, unshakable hope and joy to be found in Jesus and through the Lord only. I will not sugarcoat life for you, and I will not sugarcoat that hope.

I don't believe that, as soon as you accept Jesus, he will make everything right in your life. Although, that depends how you look at it and what life you're looking at. In this world you will have problems, he says in John 16:33.

But I have overcome the world.

That's our hope. It's not illogical. There is evidence for the God of the Bible and Jesus and the resurrection as it was told in the Gospels, and you just have to be willing to look into it because if you're not, it doesn't matter how much evidence there is, you won't believe it. It's not based on fairytale beliefs. I'm going to write some blog posts over evidence for Christianity, but there is evidence historically, scientifically, psychologically, etc. like there is for no other religion. And it's not wishful thinking to think there is hope in Jesus.

I just finished writing four letters on this blog about that hope and that love and forgiveness God extends to us. And I was inspired to write those based on a situation like this.

Humans, to think that we just came to be and evolved, with all of our different personalities and deep desires for love that all point to something higher and deeper than what anything in this world can offer you, is ridiculous. The way humans are made, and the desires we have, are so accurate with what the Bible says. Everything is, really. And then you have all these other religions that are basically telling you that you need to do XYZ to be saved, and that totally goes against what the Bible teaches, and these religions believe the Bible is corrupt. Clearly they have not read 2 Timothy 3:16, and there are other verses besides that one too. Like John 17:17, Psalm 33:4, Revelation 22:18, Psalm 19:7, etc. But that's for another day.

Here is John 16:33, the full verse:

‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’
— John 16:33 NIV

He has overcome it all.

*If you read the part where I said nothing good comes of these situations and thought about how God works through them, that's good. You're right. Just last Sunday in church my pastor gave an awesome sermon over how when situations look utterly hopeless and impossible to fix, that is when God steps in. He is able to do so much more than we can imagine, in fact, that's a verse, and just read it along with the one that follows it:

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,
— Ephesians 3:20 NKJV

Then it is followed by verse 21, which rings so true in these situations especially:

to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
— Ephesians 3:21 NKJV

Forever and ever. If you think there isn't any hope for this situation or the situation similar to this I've been following or even for your own life, there is. There is so much hope in the Lord. How do you get it? You repent of your sins. You get right with God, you believe in Jesus and what he has done for you--died for you on the cross to take away your sin, and was raised from the dead. Death had no power over him (Romans 6:9), and your "hopeless" situation is not too hard for him to fix.

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’
— John 14:6

In Jesus there is truth, and there is LIFE. For YOU. For ANYONE who comes to him in repentance and believes in him. So yes, even Scott Peterson, if he were to do that, and you know what, I pray that he does. Maybe one day I will go into prisons and share this. I would love to do that. But for now, I am telling you this, and I am praying for you, that you would see this. And here is John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
— John 3:16 NIV

Back to when I mentioned it depends on what life we're talking about Jesus will make right for you. Some people think they can accept Jesus, and their earthly life will be perfect, and he will remove all their problems. I don't agree with that. Your earthly life is not going to be perfect, not when we live in the world we do. And Jesus is not just going to take away all your problems. He does not say that. What he says is that he will be there even through your problems.

Here's Matthew 28:20:

‘And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’
— Matthew 28:20 NIV

Here's Hebrews 13:5

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

’Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.’
— Hebrews 13:5 NIV

Also, note how that says "be content with what you have". You don't need money, or earthly success, or health, or to be out of prison, or whatever it may be, to be joyful and have hope in Christ. In fact, most of the times we are without these things, is when God can work in our hearts the most. Listen to this:

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
— Hebrews 12:11 NIV

Do you learn anything by having an amazing life? No, you don't. You learn to love money, to love yourself, which is everything this prideful society preaches. You forget God, and you forget what He commands us to do. And sometimes you have to fall FLAT ON YOUR FACE to see this, to really and truly grasp Jesus and JESUS ALONE. Sometimes you have to have the world taken from you so that you will not rely on the world to make you happy but your Father who loves you so much, enough to die for you. Paul endured so much hardship, but he brought all glory to God through it. Listen to him talk here; I think these verses are absolutely awesome:

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
— Philippians 3:7-9 NIV

He said whatever were gains are now losses for the sake of Christ. If you have to lose everything to find Christ, so be it, because finding Him, KNOWING Him, is so much better than anything else, Paul is saying. And he would know as he went through beatings, prison, etc. You can read all about that in Acts.

I don't think the name-it-and-claim-it lines up with what the Bible teaches at all. If you must go to prison to find Jesus, if you must be sick to find Jesus, if you must lose everything to find Jesus, it's worth it because nothing compares to knowing him. Jesus has given you eternal life (1 John 5:11). THAT is our hope. We still live in this world, but the time is coming where every tear will be wiped (Revelation 21:4).

But until then, God, in His mercy, has given you today to claim this truth, to get right with Him. Your story does not have to end in death or sin. Whatever you have done, or wherever you may be right now, in whatever your circumstances may be, you can find hope in Jesus right now. Read my letters about that here, here, here, and here.

Your story does not have to end in sin, in condemnation. Don't wait. Get right with God now, and your story has only just begun. To Him be ALL the glory.

to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
— Ephesians 3:21 NKJV