When Characters Suffer

I once thought about what it would be like to meet your characters in real life.

I think a lot of people would consider it ‘really cool’ or ‘awesome’. They would have a great time together, and get to talk about all the things that were done well about them.

“I made you into an incredible character, didn’t I?” One might say. “Aren’t you grateful for everything I’ve done for you?”

What would I say to them? I wondered.

But when I thought of it, I had a very different feeling overcome me. I was terrified. I started to imagine my characters from various stories, ones that I was personally responsible for. I looked at those characters, with realistic emotions, who would stare back at me with varying responses.

They would look at the one who wrote their story. The one responsible for all of the strife and pain they have faced.

Compare it to going to Heaven. You arrive and look upon the one who made you and wrote your story. You ask “Why, Lord? Why all the pain and suffering?”

He responds, “For my own great glory, and for your good.”

That particular answer may be true to respond to our fictional characters, in some cases, but it is much less sovereign coming from me. Often, I cannot supply this reason. Not honestly. Not justly.

It was for my glory, as I am the one attributed to writing. It would be for their good, as all character pain should move them towards either challenging or achieving their desire. But they would look upon an imperfect story teller.

What would I say to them?

I would, with trembling voice, give my most sincerest apologies. I would take them in my arms and cry with them. I would run from others. I would hide myself, either out of shame or fearing aggression. Some would forgive me, but not all of them.

I would be responsible for their dead family members and friends. I killed them with my own two hands. I would be responsible for their diseases, their miscarriages, their stress, their anxiety, their bruised ankles, their tears. I would be culpable for it all.

But I think that just shows us how hard it is to tell stories.

It just shows us how blessed we are to have such an all knowing story teller for our own personal journey. We writes stories and show suffering to reflect the great joy when the pain is overcome. Perhaps that would be enough for them to forgive me.

But as for us, we have something much greater to look forward to. We have trials and pain to prepare us for the end of our story. The biggest difference? The end of our story is really just the beginning.

1 Peter 4:12-13 (ESV)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.




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