“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” Ecclesiastes 7:8
I started laboriously paying off my student loans over a year ago. I took a good, hard look at how much interest I would pay over ten years and that made me cringe to the point I became aggressive in paying off my massive debt. The end of paying off my student loans was infinitely better than the day I sent the first payment. Better is the end of a thing that its beginning.
It’s one thing to enroll in college, it’s another feat to dedicate four years to earning a degree. The extended nights studying, the countless papers written, and the numerous hours spent in the classroom. Adrenaline rushes through us at the beginning of a new adventure, but that fire fades as we settle into the mundane activities it takes to patiently endure to the end. Adrenaline can cause acceleration, but doesn’t always give you an advantage over adversity. “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” Proverbs 24:10. Better is the end of a thing that its beginning.
In December 2015 I ran my first (and last) half marathon. For years my dad always wanted to run a half-marathon and I promised I would run alongside him. It’s one thing to sign up for a half-marathon, it’s another practice of perseverance to dedicate endless hours disciplining your body to pump out multiple miles even when your legs feel like jello and your lungs threaten to collapse. Better is the end of a thing that its beginning. A goal accomplished is better than a goal set.
It’s one thing to experience salvation, it’s another to finish the lifelong race of faith set before you. It’s one thing to say “yes” to a proposal, it’s another achievement to patiently endure every blessing and catastrophe that awaits you in marriage. Better is the end of a thing that its beginning.
Before Jesus died on the cross he shared with his followers it was going to be better when he ended his time on earth and returned to the Father because he would send the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in us, would be better than Jesus next to us. But his life on earth had to come to an end to see the outpouring of the Spirit. The disciples were filled with sorrow when they focused on his departure, unable to see the hope given through the Holy Spirit. When all you know is a journey next to Jesus like his disciples did it would take some convincing to believe such an absurd promise. Jesus had to say, “It is finished” before the Holy Spirit could start to fill all people forever.
“I didn’t tell you this earlier because I was with you every day. But now I am on my way to the One who sent me. Not one of you has asked, ‘Where are you going?’ Instead, the longer I’ve talked, the sadder you’ve become. So let me say it again, this truth: It’s better for you that I leave. If I don’t leave, the Friend won’t come. But if I go, I’ll send him to you.” John 16:7 MSG
It’s not about how you start, but how you finish. Walking across the stage at graduation. Running, or hobbling in my experience, across the finish line of a half-marathon. Not just getting married, but staying married until you take your last breath. This is what I imagine “better is the end of a thing than its beginning” can look like in real life. As 2016 comes to a close, I am asking myself the statement presented in this verse, “Has the end of 2016 been better than the beginning?”