As we follow our protagonist through their trial, they will ultimately reach their ‘point of no return’. It's when our characters find themselves teetering at the top of that Plot Diagram ‘mountain’ and we don’t know if they’ll progress forward or fall back to darkness. It’s these moments where we are reminded that our main characters are human and flawed.
The climax is the point in the main character’s journey where we don’t know if they’ll rise to the occasion or fall from grace. Whereas the inciting incident is the moment that chaos is introduced into our character’s life, the Climax is where the character either falls into the chaos or brings order to it.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”John 8:12
Throughout my high school and college years (which is weird for me to talk about as if it were so far in the past…) I had a recurring dream that would happen every couple of months. It was always that I’d find myself wandering aimlessly through a large labyrinth of darkness. It was almost like being dropped into the middle of an empty warehouse with no knowledge of the layout and trying to figure out how to escape. This wasn’t my first experience with a recurring dream, although they often held the same motifs as one another: finding myself in a vast space, whether falling into an abyss or wandering through vast unknown locations.
I had no knowledge of how I had arrived in those spaces. I couldn’t remember walking into the ‘warehouse’ or driving to it—everything in me should’ve been able to convince myself that this was a dream that I was having. It wasn’t logical. My brain, however, was working against me and convincing me that I was in danger of being trapped in darkness forever or that whatever was in the darkness was going to ensnare me.
When you find yourself surrounded by darkness amidst your trial, your brain will try to convince you that it is natural that you find yourself there. Darkness is where destruction runs rampant, hidden by a thin veil of comfort. It’s where you will find it hard to carry on. All the effort that you put into finding the door and letting the light fill the room will feel pointless when you’re constantly bumping into the obstacles that block the way to the exit. All of our mistakes—the walls, shelves, and stairways within these inky-black voids that we stumble into and climb over as we blindly walk through those darkest moments of our journeys—each fault will try to convince you that it is okay, and right, to sit and relax within the still and quiet dark.
Have you ever tried to fall asleep with the light on? It’s a difficult thing to do, and often your sleep isn’t renewing or rejuvenating—It’s far easier to fall asleep when it’s dark in your room. Darkness invites complacency and comfortability. Don’t let the climax of your trials lull you into a deep sleep and stop your journey towards being more Christlike.
In the hardest moment of your trials, it’s imperative that we make Christ our guiding light. How much easier it would’ve been for me to find an exit in my dream if there was a single light illuminating above the exit door. I would’ve had a way to orient myself and move in the right direction. This is why it’s so important that we have a relationship with Christ. When the lights go off and it's impossible to tell right from left or right from wrong, He is the light that provides us direction. He is what keeps us firmly grounded and rooted in faith when the world creeps in around us. The Bible isn’t shy about telling us that we will face trials of many kinds in life.
Having a relationship with Christ takes constant communication with Him. It’s just like any other relationship. If I stop talking to my friends for a good length of time, our relationship will begin to deteriorate. We have to make time to spend with God—this is becoming more and more difficult now that we have a billion other things vying for our attention. There are companies who pay millions of dollars in marketing to psychologically analyze how to grab your attention and hold onto it. When it comes to us overcoming that and diligently tending to a relationship with Christ, we are the caretakers. We cannot rely on anyone else to foster our relationship with God, so we need to build strong self-discipline to remain consistent in spending time with Him so that we don’t lose our guiding light through our trials.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith…may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7
I’m a huge sports fan. We’re currently in arguably the best sports month of the year with March Madness in Men’s College Basketball. Oftentimes, the teams that make the March Madness tournament are the teams that have worked the hardest at playing sound, fundamental basketball. If I were to take over a perennial powerhouse college basketball program, walked into the building on day one, and told them that there’s no need for us to practice for our games all year and that we have the natural talent to win any game, how do you think we’d perform? We wouldn’t make the March Madness tournament, and we’d be lucky to even win half of our games, and I’m almost certain I wouldn’t have a job next season…
Practice is key in sports—trials are key in faith. A faith that’s forged through difficult trials can endure any stretch of doubt and darkness that it finds itself in down the road when that faith is rooted in strength coming from Jesus Christ. Moreover, though, a faith that insists on enduring the trials of life without a sound, fundamental relationship with Christ is doomed to fail.
One of the first books of the bible I read through was Job, and I remember wondering why God was so willing to test Job’s faith so intensely. It seemed as though Job was where God would want anyone to be in their faith, why test it? Why do we have to endure trials?
They prove the genuineness of our faith. They teach us to not rely on our own strength, but to rely on God. Our testimonies aren’t a testimony of our own strength, they’re testimonies of God’s strength and God’s faithfulness to us—our trials and testimonies should result in praise, glory, and honor to God.
Job’s faith, despite all he lost, proved strong and genuine and God blessed him further because of it, but he had to endure through quite the trial. We should be emboldened in the face of our trials knowing that God is over all things and will provide for us. Everyone will come to a point in their trials where they can’t continue on any longer and their own strength will fail. This is where we have to rely on God to come through for us—to have faith. And He will sustain us and carry us the rest of the way.
I remember, when I was younger, hearing a phrase that was meant to reassure us: “God will never give you more than you can handle.” And while the sentiment is good in that you want to feel like you’re capable of handling whatever trials you will encounter, there’s nothing true about it. God will most certainly give you more than you can handle. If He didn’t, what’s the point of faith? If I know that everything I face in life can be handled by me alone, there’s no point in believing in a higher power—at that point, you are the higher power and, as I mentioned in the first post, you become the God of your life and a tower of Babel waiting to be struck down.
The entire book of Job is essentially Job feeling sorry for himself but understanding that despite all that he lost, he still serves a God that is faithful to him and will sustain him. Job still praises Him and God provides twice of what Job had before.
When you reach the point where you want to give up, know that you serve a God who is ready and willing to help you—you just need to call out to Him. He will protect and sustain you and give you the strength to complete your journey.
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalms 55:22
I’ve been very cautious to refer to us as the Hero’s of our stories because I don’t believe that’s the role that we play in each of our lives. There’s a common belief that the main character is also the hero when it comes to films—that’s not always the case. Oftentimes the main character goes through their entire journey and reaches the climax before failing. Then, they have to rely on the true hero to carry them over the mountaintop of the climax.
I’ve made one Lord of the Rings reference so far, so I’ll continue down that thread: Frodo may often be seen as the main character of that story, but he’s most definitely not the hero.
From an initial watchthrough one may believe that Samwise Gamgee is just a useless side character whose role it is to just be a solid foundation for Frodo as the ring becomes more and more burdensome on him. However, when Frodo finally reaches Mount Doom and his strength begins to fail him, he has to rely on Sam to literally carry him up the mountainside to destroy the ring.
There are times where, along your trials, your strength will fail you—it’s inevitable. God is always waiting for you to call to Him for help so that he can carry you the rest of the way up the mountainside and over it towards your resolution. You may be the main character of the story He is writing for you, but you are not the hero—He is.
You may call to Him and His help may not be immediate. You may be stuck for a long time waiting for Him to show up and help you, but He is always on time. He may not be there right when you want Him to be, but He will always be on time. And, while waiting, those can be the moments when we realize how strong and resilient God has made each of us.
In movies, it’s the dark moments that forge a true hero—In life, it’s the dark moments that forge a true faith.
No matter the suspense you feel, the uncertainty of the ending of your story, if you align and orient yourself with God, He will be faithful and bless you at the end of your trials and keep you safe throughout them. This is how you forge a stronger faith in Christ. When you make God your guiding light—your goal to strive for—you don’t find yourself lost in vast deserts of dark. You always have a direction. You always have a goal. You always have a guide.
When you go through your trials and you make a habit of calling to God for help, you’re forming a relationship with Him that can outlast any onslaught of pain or mourning. Even though life is full of trial after trial and you’ll always reach a climactic point where you don’t think you can continue—where you think it’d be easier to turn back to who you were—remember that God walks beside you, behind you, and in front of you. You have the best wingman you could ever hope for who longs to see you through to your resolution and to see you become more like Him.
When God sets you on a path to become more like Him, don’t fool yourself into turning back and returning to the person you were before Him. You’re nearly to your resolution and becoming more like Him.