At the time of writing, I’m watching an episode of Doctor Who that’s doing a fantastic job of walking the line between fear and fun, and I’m noticing a curious characteristic of the episode.
Although the episode is frightening at points, playing on themes of control, faith, and hope, it never crosses into horror. Instead, it remains fairly light, incorporating jokes even in tense moments and adding levity in moments where it could have increased the element of fear. The lightheartedness is a reminder that, in spite of the creepiness of the episode, everything will be alright. No matter how dark the day, how fierce the fight, the Doctor will win. It may take some time, and it may come with loss, but victory will come.
That’s how Doctor Who works. The Doctor always wins. Things always turn out fine in the end. Because of this truth, fans can walk into any episode with a justified optimism. They know what to expect, and that expectation influences how they view any episode. Thus, even though Doctor Who doesn’t shy away from loss and pain, it never loses a sense of hopefulness that good waits just around the corner.
Faith (which, as the episode goes on, proves to be a key aspect of this story) works a bit like this. God’s history with his people sets a spotless record of victory. He has never once failed, never once forsaken his own, never once forgotten his promises. Because of this, Christians can enter any season of life with justified optimism that God will work all things together for good (Romans 8:28). They may not know what comes next or how their situation will resolve, but they can rest assured that, at the end of the journey, their faith in God will be justified.
Most of the time, I don’t know what God’s up to. I see the trial, the terror, the temptations, and I don’t always see the way forward. But I know God’s record of faithfulness and his promises of provision, so I need not fear. Instead, I remind myself of his steadfastness in spite of what I see.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah