Is life a comedy or a tragedy?


Jesus’ died willingly, purposefully, and the Father raised Him wondrously. Encouragement, no matter our current circumstances, flows from those first Easter’s truths. Because of God’s startling plan that first Easter, we can experience a radically altered  understanding of our own life’s trajectory. We can be fortified by the unexpected answer to a unique question — a question forever affected  by Jesus’ resurrection. Here’s the question:

What is life, a comedy or a tragedy?

I love Glen Scrivener’s  answer: “…’Comedy’ and ‘tragedy’ have particular meanings. In literature, ‘comedy’ and ‘tragedy’ refer to the shape of a story, not so much its content or even its tone.

Shakespeare’s tragedies, for instance, were full of jokes…Tragedies can have jokes, and comedies can have heartache…Tragedies contain joy, comedies contain pain, but the distinguishing mark of each is the ending. At the end of a Shakespearean tragedy the bodies are piled up on the stage. At the end of a Shakespearean comedy—in all 14 of them, in fact—there is a wedding. Or four.

To help fix it in your mind, think of it this way: a comedy is shaped like a smile. You go down then up—descending into darkness before rising up to joy. A tragedy, on the other hand, is shaped like a frown—up then down. You climb to prosperity then tumble into the pit.

So then, now that we’ve clarified the question, let me ask it again: What is life, a tragedy or a comedy? … Tragedy, surely!

…Life is a tragedy, and this dismal tale is sold to us in every magazine and paperback: The thousand books you must read before you die; The ten must-see destinations for your bucket list. E00E4BDD-C31F-4533-80CF-53A8AA9454D3The shape of the story is up then down and the advertisers are primed to sell you the uppiest up that money can buy because the down really is a downer. The photos are glossy, but they mask an unutterable tragedy. Life, according to the wisdom of the age, is about enjoying our brief “moment in the sun.” We clamber upward, grab for ourselves all the achievements, experiences, and pleasures that we can and then, so soon, we are “over the hill” and the grave awaits. It’s up then down. The frowny face. The tragedy.

Then—against all odds and in distinction to all competitors—the Bible dares to tell a different story. It actually has the audacity to be a comedy. The tale it tells holds out dazzling and eternal hope for us.

76108192-44C7-42F7-8278-20C90D2243EBWhile the religions of the East speak of dissolving into the ocean of being, and while Islam and the Christian cults portray an otherworldly future, the Bible promises resurrection. 142CAF36-B0B7-43ED-96C9-F7F81A3C8063This is different. It’s about these bodies and this world raised up. It’s this life laid hold of and turned around, like the plot twist in a classic comedy. Resurrection is about the author doing something joyous with our story—this one, the one we’re in—taking us through the valley of the shadow and out into a happily ever after, complete with a wedding (Rev. 19:6–9). Without Jesus, life ends with a funeral. With him, there is a never-ending wedding feast.

The Bible is a comedy, and it all centers on Easter.”

(From What’s So Funny About Easter? by Glen Scrivener)



About Jill

I'm a wife, mom to three beautiful children, and work as children's ministry director at Redeemer PCA in Athens, GA, a place our family treasures as our church home. It's been thirty years since the Lord saved me, and to this day I'm astounded at His steadfast love shed upon unfaithful me. My hope would be that I might speak and write in ways God would use to soften hearts toward Him, that we would together be enamored by the glorious beauty of Jesus and awakened to His love unimagined. Thanks so much for reading!
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