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Happily-Ever-After1In the interest of filling my storytelling tank of creativity, I’ve been splurging on the collection of Hallmark movies I recorded leading up to Christmas and now on toward Valentine’s Day. I’ll be the first to admit that a few of the cheesy scenes and contrived plot points of some stories get on my nerves (and compel me to be a better writer so my future readers don’t roll their eyes or throw my book across the room.)

However, I’ve mostly found what I expected to see. A clean romance with a heart-warming storyline. While set in a variety of settings or situations, there weren’t many huge surprises. Some included a symbol or quotation that wove through the story, but all had a message of some sort. And all had a happily-ever-after ending that left me with a smile on my face. Call it formulaic or good storytelling, but Hallmark channel movies delivered what I expected.

That’s a good thing for a movie, but not for life. The real world doesn’t always meet my expectations and I end up battling disappointment. Because life’s journey tends to bring a series of twists, turns, detours, roadblocks, and setbacks on a sometimes rocky trail instead of a straight, paved highway to happiness. If I don’t have honest expectations about life on planet Earth this side of heaven, I’ll wallow in the swamp of suffering or wander in a canyon of complaining.

If life is not like a Hallmark movie, what is a proper view?

I’m reminded of something Jesus said. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b NIV) James wrote for believers to consider it joy when they faced trials, because it would develop patience, perseverance, and character. (James 1:2, 12) And Peter said the trials and grief helped prove the genuineness of their faith and resulted in greater glory for God. (1 Peter 1:6-7)

And from the Old Testament promises: “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut. 31:8 NIV) And from the Psalms: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; our rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4 NIV)

Expect trouble. Know that I am not alone in the valley. Grow in character through perseverance. Bring glory to God as a result. Those are honest expectations, because my happily-ever-after might not come until Heaven.

But it will come.

What about you? Do you watch or avoid Hallmark channel movies? What have you expected in life and have you gotten it? Do you feel alone in the valley or do you expect God to help and comfort you?

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