Eucatastrophe: A Different Vision of Apocalypse

Usually when we hear the term “apocalypse” we imagine scenes of great catastrophe: burning cities, abandoned, shell-shocked villages, and other dystopian visual scenes. We automatically think of apocalypse through Hollywood’s lenses but the Greek word apokalupsis actually means “an unveiling, an uncovering, a revelation, or a revealing.”

The day of the Lord’s return will be a great revealing. All that is hidden will come to light. Again, when we initially hear this we began to rightly quake thinking of hidden sins and thoughts being brought to light. Yet, this great unveiling will also reveal great glory where we have missed it. For the believer in Christ, apocalypse does not have to mean catastrophe, it can mean eucatastrophe.

Eucatastrophe is a term created by J.R.R. Tolkien who added the prefix eu- to the common term. It is meant to signify that feeling or moment in an epic story when everything is made right and finally comes together. For Tolkien, Christ’s incarnation and resurrection are eucatastrophes.

I love this term because it captures what the end of this world will mean for those whose trust is hidden in the person of Christ. We need not live in fear of coming catastrophe, for we have inherited a living hope and have an eternal eucatastrophe waiting upon us by grace through faith.

In his first letter to the churches, Peter talks about the glory to be revealed for those who share in Christ’s suffering.

But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you (1 Peter 4:13-14).

Similarly, the Apostle Paul speaks of the glory to be revealed (apokalupsis) upon the Lord’s second coming.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God (Romans 8: 18-19).

As believers, we need not fear the day when the invisible will be made visible. In fact, the Scriptures seem to urge us to long for this day as those wrapped up in the righteousness of Christ. The Scriptures also invite us to use this coming day of revealing as motivation to walk in a manner worthy of the calling we have received (Ephesians 4:1). We are compelled to remember that one day all that is hidden will be brought to light. We are urged to be those who will be exposed in having inconspicuous good works brought to light rather than hidden sins (1 Timothy 5:24-25).

Photo by Craig Cooper on Unsplash

In light of the coming eucatastrophe, we are reminded to not grow weary in well-doing. Though the world may not see and appreciate our fight to be faithful to God and his word, our God sees it all. Our God will not be mocked. One day, all that is sown to the Spirit will be revealed in a glorious harvest (Galatians 6:7-9).

Eucatastrophe

You who sow in unseen fields,
Raising rows that raise no eye,
Keep cultivating your corner.
The All-Seeing One passes by. 

The flesh-fields seem to flourish,
But your Maker won’t be mocked. 
The harvest fields He hastens
Will leave the mockers shocked

He sees every seed sown in faith,
Prayed over, and watered by tears. 
Work-wearied laborers, press on:
The surplus will exceed your years.

Those who go forth weeping
Will return skipping with glee;
Toil and tread without dread;
Your God works besides thee. 

Wipe your tears, lift your eyes,
Tarry longer, take up your hoe. 
Planted promises will fully fruit;
Fallow fields will golden glow.  

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