Cliffhangers

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Image by Hans Braxmeier

Snap!

With one deadly snap of his fingers, Thanos turned half the world—and half of my favorite characters—to dust.

If you’re a Marvel fan like me, the cliffhanger ending of Avengers: Infinity War (Part 1) felt like someone threw me over the cliff and I’d have to wait a year to hit the bottom. I laid awake nights trying to figure out how my favorite characters could come back to life again.

Whether you’re a fan of movies like Avengers or Harry Potter, TV shows like Game of Thrones or Heroes, or books like Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring trilogy, you’ve no doubt come across the cliffhanger ending. You want to scream at the writer for making you wait for the resolution. But you also feel the anticipation build as you can’t wait to see or read the next part of the series.

Suspense writers often employ this technique at the end of chapters, to convince the reader to keep reading just a little bit longer. So do TV shows, hoping you’ll binge watch just one more episode.

Would God ever do such a thing?

The Gospels all end with Jesus coming back from the dead—what might he do next? Acts answers that question, but leaves us with Paul sharing the gospel in prison—then what? Will he make it out alive?

In my HOPE Trilogy, I’m trying to develop this part of my writing craft. So for those who finish a book and want to scream at me, I know your pain! But I hope the excitement it builds in you to read the next book is worth it.

Anticipation can become a complaint of how long we have to wait, or a wide-eyed wonder of what surprise might come next.

Remember when you were a child, how excited you felt on Christmas Eve? It’s the child’s annual cliffhanger. It holds the promise of something wonderful tomorrow.

We all understand what the Psalmist felt like in Psalm 13 when he cries out, “How long, O Lord, how long?”

  • looking for a job
  • longing to be married, or to have children
  • desperate for this COVID-19 lockdown to end

Even the earth is living in a cliffhanger moment, according to Romans 8:18-21 (The Message):

That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

For those who live in “joyful anticipation,” cliffhangers prepare us to fully appreciate the reward when it comes.

What if on the other side of COVID-19 there is revival? a great harvest? “glorious times ahead”?

So whatever it is that you’re waiting for, why don’t you engage your imagination, excitedly wondering what might happen next . . . and get ready for the big reveal!


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