We often think of the times we are witnessing as spelling our doom. We think about the suffering our enemies are eager to inflict upon us, the passion of their malice, the pervasiveness of their evil schemes, and their worldly power. We tend to forget that worldly power is fleeting, that malice most effectively destroys the malicious, and that suffering can be endured.
Nothing prepared us for the moral morass we are facing; our civilizational inheritance was amputated and our forebears mostly insensate, incapable or unwilling to fulfill their duties to transmit and to lead. And yet through the grace of God, there are none better prepared to do the work that lies ahead than us.
If we are to learn anything from the structure of the classic fairy tale, it is that in the heart of darkness, the tide begins to turn. In the traditional German fairy tale Snow White, the jealous queen poisons the fair maiden in spite. Her murderous schemes are defeated by quaint, busy little agents, the dwarfs, and a bold young man endowed with regality of nature. The queen is forced to dance herself to death during the marriage of Snow White and the prince. Her plans and power come to ashes. Evil may have its day, but its victories are temporary and self-defeating, and therefore in a way, illusory. We can be confident in the Augustinian syllogism that God created every thing, but did not create evil; therefore, evil is not a thing. Good has substantial being: evil does not.
We act as daring princes too, when we live counterculturally and reclaim what has been forgotten from the burned libraries of modernity. Our enemies do not want us to have or discover anything suggestive of the power of the good, the true, and the beautiful; as 1984’s Winston treasured his coral paperweight, recovered at a contraband shop, so we treasure true signs of life and the permanent perfections of wisdom. Our ends are not bleak as Orwell would forecast: our God is the god of victory. The LORD is a warrior; The LORD is His name (Exodus 15:3).
Heroism is passed down in stories because the need for heroes will always arise. Happy endings are written not to soothe the sensibilities of the weak minded, but to affirm the absurdity of evil. The fate of the world is to be remade in perfection, and the fate that God intends for us is glorification. Knowing our Father in Heaven intends this for us, we can live freely despite the threats and taunts of our enemies. God will sunder their designs and use them instead to perfect us.
We have reason to be joyous, to love one another unreservedly, and to trust boldly in our deliverance. So accustomed to the ubiquity, worldly preeminence and meddling of the wicked, we have forgotten their place beneath our feet. Live righteously and hopefully: those who strive against us fall on their own swords. After all, the end of the world heralds the reign of innocence… and the final happily ever after.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)