As the clouds rolled in and the earth became black there was a mix of emotion on the hill. Many were indifferent, or slightly disappointed, but only because the show was over and they had to return once again to normal life. Others were relieved because their work day was over and they had the chance to return home. Still others rejoiced because the nightmare was over and they had won. The criminal had been dealt with and eliminated, finally. But, there was an even smaller group of individuals who were devastated. They were devastated because their hopes and dreams had been dashed. Their visions of grandeur were destroyed. In a twenty-four hour period, they had gone from hopeful and excited, to displaced and disillusioned. Their hero had been killed. Their friend had been found guilty. Their Savior had been crucified. All had been lost. And as the dark clouds rolled over the scene, hope disappeared from the hearts of all who held it.
J.R.R Tolkien, the creator of Middle Earth and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, coined a term as he was developing his fantastical world. The term was a staple in the development of his stories and marked his literary works. The term is ‘eucatastrophe’. Eucatastrophe is when all circumstances have turned bleak and there doesn’t seem to be any way for the hero to triumph over the circumstances…but then he does. Due to an unknown factor that was not foreseen, possibly overlooked, or was more significant than believed to be, the circumstances suddenly change and the hero does come through. He does conquer the situation, defeats the foe, and overcomes evil. In a quick turn of events, the hero breaks through and rises victorious.
Unfortunately, most of us do not feel like we are that kind of hero. In fact, most of us don’t feel like we are heroes at all. Most of us feel as though we are handily defeated by the circumstances and challenges around us, or at the very least we feel as though we are insignificant in the story of our own lives. We are fighting challenges in our finances, our health, our families, our marriages, and our jobs. Some of us are fighting battles in our hearts, in our relationships, and in our minds. Regardless of what the challenges are that any of us face, we dream of being the overcomers who succeed, but we feel like we are being defeated and conquered on a daily basis. Somehow we need hope.
Jesus knows exactly where we are. He was defeated once. He hung on a cross, feeling his life slipping away from him and watching his world darken. He felt the weight of the world’s sin on his shoulders and felt his body collapsing under the burden. Jesus knows what it feels like to be hopeless, abandoned, and lonely. His story had come to an end, and he hadn’t accomplished anything his followers desired to see him accomplish. He hadn’t set them free, he hadn’t overthrown the government, and he hadn’t reestablished the nation’s greatness. Jesus died defeated, failed, and a disappointment.
Then, three days later…three days later…THREE DAYS LATER the stone rolled away, the tomb was empty, and Jesus had risen. He had risen as the conquerer of sin and death. He had risen as the overcomer of difficulties and hardship. The hero had overcome, in light of complete and utter defeat, the hero had conquered evil. When least expected, in a way no one foresaw or fully understood, the hero conquered all things.
We may not feel like conquerers most of the time and we feel defeated throughout many of the days of our lives, but we can take hope in the fact that we have a savior who is an overcomer and a conquerer. He has tasted defeat and felt the pain of devastation, but luckily defeat and devastation has had no permanent effect on him. Jesus, the conquerer and the example of a eucatastrophe before Tolkien coined the term, stands in our corner. He knows what it is like to breakthrough when the opposition is toughest. We must learn in the midst of our challenges to not look at our problems and the situations we find ourselves in, but instead look at our God…the hero who broke through.
I am not sure where you are, but Hebrews 11.1 tells us that faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. The source of that faith is in Jesus who can see things through. It may not always be the way we want it to be, and it may not be what we expect, but the cross wasn’t how Jesus wanted to go out. Despite that, his Father brought him through. He can also get you through. He can overcome your health issues, he can overcome your financials issues, and he can overcome your family issues. He can also fight the battles of your heart, your mind, and your decisions. He is there with you, even when you don’t feel like he is. Offer your challenges to him, trust your hardships in his hands, and follow him through the difficulties. He is with you, and he has been through it before you arrived.