“I am glad that you are here with me,” said Frodo. “Here at the end of all things, Sam.”1
I never expected to get a lesson on living mere hope from the concluding chapters of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, but I did. The hero and his faithful companion, comprising the remnant of a fellowship that set out on a journey to destroy evil and
What was their source of hope? Even though the world collapsed around them, they knew that evil was ultimately defeated. Though they expected to die and not find escape, they rested in hope, knowing the truth for which they persevered now reigned. That and remaining fellowship led them to express gladness and joy there “at the end of all things.”
Of course, as the story goes, the very climax of the eucatastrophe2 in The Lord of the Rings occurs just when it appeared that all hope was lost, as good triumphed in the form of rescuing eagles. The imagery of eagles in Tolkien’s work is remarkable for portraying this type of eucatastrophe. In Exodus 19:14, God refers to his deliverance of Israel from Egypt as his bearing them “on eagles’ wings.” Isaiah 40 speaks of eagles’ wings as a source of strength for the weary in a passage that almost depicts Tolkien’s scene exactly:
"Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall
In Tolkien’s story, there is great hope and joy for those of us laboring as Christians in an age of cynicism—and thankfully, as we have seen, that is only a reflection of the shining light of
Peter explains that while a Christian should have his eyes fixed and his hope set on the soon and certain return of Jesus, he should be using his spiritual gifts, whether serving or speaking, all for the glory of God. What, then, is the source of our hope and on what task are we to have our minds and hearts set? Until the end, whether one eats, drinks, preaches, trains, waters, reaps, types, writes, shares, or disciples, he should be doing these things as the biblically prescribed means for carrying out the Great Commission to the glory of God. Such it is, too, with mere hope. Until Jesus returns, Christians should look down at their foundational gospel hope, look in at their fountain of living hope, look out at the need for a flourishing global hope, and look up and focus on future hope.
Excerpted with permission from Mere Hope by Jason G. Duesing. Copyright 2018, B&H Publishing Group.
1. J. R. R.
2. Eucatastrophe is a term coined by J. R. R. Tolkien to describe a happy ending. But it is not just an ordinary happy ending; it is the notion that when the night is darkest, at the very last moment, the sun rises.