Adventure books. I love those. And I hate them. And I love to hate them. About the entire aim of the writing in most suspense is getting readers to love a character…and then tormenting that character within an inch of his imaginary life with near-unbearable problems, danger, stress and anguish. Before you can recover, the writer tosses in another devastating struggle. And a heartbreak. Probably as he’s hanging from a cliff. Maybe then a natural disaster on top of that. Possibly two.
I’m always trying to prepare myself for the nail-biting agony of that hopeless moment—the one when your favorite character is trapped with no shred of hope for rescue or escape. He almost always does escape, of course. But by then I pretty much need a shower. Sometimes a nap.
As a writer, I want to write stories that deliver readers the same kind of compelling need to stop reading because the story is just too intense. And to keep reading because the story is just too intense. Not that we writers are insecure or anything, but every once in a while, my inner critic tells me that I am to writing as Spam is to meat. Hush up, inner critic. I love writing. And I hate it. And I love hating it.
While it may be a love/hate relationship with suspense and writing, in real life I’m much more inclined to think of intense struggles as more of a hate/hate thing. I don’t think I’m alone there. Difficulties in relationships, challenging circumstances, financial problems, health issues—sometimes they’re the kind of struggles that leave a person feeling trapped with no hope of rescue. Just too intense.
Still, it’s in those intense times that we do well to consider that our rescue or escape physically is not nearly as imperative as it is spiritually. What a great ending to our story: the spiritual is perfectly settled in the most happily-ever-after kind of way. Paul tells us that our God “has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him,” (Colossians 1:13-14, HCSB). Rescued! Forever freed! Now there’s some beautiful drama.
The two verses right before that passage give us an important how-to when it comes to dealing with the struggles of this life. “May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light,” (vv. 11-12, HCSB). The power we need for overcoming the obstacles of life? That strength and power comes from the God who indwells us! The strength to endure, to have patience, to find joy, to be thankful—He will empower us for all of that from the inside out, no matter how steep the cliff we’re hanging from.
It’s good to ask our Father to rescue us physically. We see it all through scripture—you can pick almost any psalm. But regardless of the hows and whens of His answers, we can rest assured there is never a hopeless moment for us. This I love to love. The walk of faith is all wrapped up in hope. We’re wrapped. Not trapped.
We can find perfect rest in that hope. It’s better than any nap.