Tim Challies wrote a wonderful reminder of why we should “Always Read the Story to the End”:
We often see God weaving narratives that make sense only in light of the concluding pages. Through the words of God’s book and the history of God’s church, we see the importance of reading to the final chapter. And it is then, at the end, we see the work of God and exclaim, “Look what God has done!”…
And so, too, in our stories. What we see through the vantage point of time in others’ lives, we must take by faith in our own. We are sometimes faced with circumstances that seem as if they must mark the final act. We sometimes encounter providences that make us believe the book has been closed and all has been lost. Yet when we are pressed, we must not think we have been crushed, but believe that God can still bring about a great redemption. When we are struck down, we must not think we have been destroyed, but rather have confidence that we are being prepared for some great blessing. When we are persecuted we must not determine we have been abandoned, but know that we are being made ready for some great usefulness to God’s plans and purposes. We must wait, we must withhold judgment, we must read to the end! For no story, least of all our own, makes sense until we have read all the way to the final page. It is only then, in light of the whole, that we see the skill, the ability, the genius of the Author.
This, of course, is merely the conclusion of his post. I encourage you to read the whole thing because the meat is in his long list of actual stories from throughout history where God did great things through suffering—including the greatest of all things. And since it is Good Friday, I will share that one here:
We see Jesus, the Son of God, unjustly arrested, brutally mistreated, horrifically whipped. We watch in horror as his hands and feet are nailed to a cross, we mourn as a spear is plunged into his side, we grieve as he is lowered from that cross and laid in a tomb. As the skies go dark, so too do our hearts. But the story is not over! On the third day we enter the tomb with the disciples and rejoice to find it empty, for Christ is risen! Death could not hold him. With joy we read the final chapter of the gospels and cry, “Look what God has done!”
Because our great God of redemption and grace is the Author, suffering is not the end. It is only the middle.