The art of storytelling gives children a basic framework for understanding truth as well as the courage to live and tell about it. This week, I'm posting six important things to know about great stories! Here is #5 and #6:
5. Stories inspire hope by giving us a “peek” at the end. Despair is not just a sin theologically—because it assumes that the grand story is about us. It’s also a mistake because it assumes we know the end of the story. Michelle Anthony has recently written, “We often don’t tell our kids about the end of the story… Maybe we think it’s too bloody or too intense, or maybe we don’t understand it all, but in reality it makes Jesus the kind of hero worth living and dying for. Knowing that Christ is the ultimate victor gives each one of us [kids included] the courage to walk with Him on the journey.” For kids, knowledge of darkness is sometimes intuitive, but they need to be told that darkness can be defeated. Perhaps, G.K. Chesterton said it best: “Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.” When we are reading Revelation and we see the king and the white horse and the dragon thrown into the pit, we can step lighter and smile wider. Peeking at the end makes us optimistic. As the old hymn says, “Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.”
6. The hope we glean from knowing the larger story (and even smaller ones) inspires us to step into others’ stories with courage and love. Since we know how the story ends, we can “rejoice that our names are written” by persevering through trial and stepping out in love. This doesn’t just mean talking about heaven but also bringing heaven here—pushing back the effects of the fall and casting rays of hope into the middle of the pain, the sickness, and the sorrow. Knowing how our own stories are intertwined with the story of God gives us courage to tell our own stories to those who need inspiration. Having hope inspires us to shape the stories of others.