The end of a matter is better than its beginning... -- Ecclesiastes 7: 8a (NIV)
Sometimes in our humanity we cannot see the other side of what we grieve. We fail to see what the other option would mean. It is like when someone tells me they are unhappy because it is their birthday and I respond, "Would you prefer the alternative?" No one thinks about that when they are unhappy about growing another year older but it is the perspective of God that we need to strive to not only comprehend but to incorporate into our vision because God's peace transcends all understanding and we often are a people chasing peace.
I write this sitting in my office of thirteen years. Boxes are strewn across the floor as the programs I have managed are coming to an end. Good work over the thirteen years has resulted in thousands of people being helped but when you are on the journey you often fail to ever think that it will come to an end. When it does and it stares you in the face you can become sad instead of satisfied because our flesh mourns the loss. The same can be said when you are faced with a big move, the end of a relationship, or when you leave a church. Basically anything that is a radical change in our routine or in how we identify ourselves. We are typically averse to change. We are creatures of comfort. The problem of course is when we start to identify ourselves with the things of this world instead of with Christ. Because the things of the world can change on us suddenly, dramatically, and often in an unfair manner. God however, never changes:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God's grace, not from rules about food, which don't help those who follow them. -- Hebrews 13: 8-9 (NLT)
Our strength does not come from our job, career or company that we work for. If you place your identity there then you run the risk of losing your identity if the company decides to outsource your job. Our strength does not come from our spouse, our kids, or even our pastor because human beings will always let us down. Too many people today in the church "pastor worship." They place him on a pedestal and when he falls he takes their faith with him. We cannot first identify ourselves with anything other than God, not even our church, which can change drastically and suddenly as well. Jesus never changes beloved. The same God that Moses spoke to is the same God we speak to. The same God David repented to is the same God we repent to. He does not change like the things of this world. When our identity is in Christ there is nothing the world can do to shake us. David understood this principle:
I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. -- Psalm 16: 8 (NIV)
Those who know me know this is the tag line on my email account. The truth is that we get shaken so easily in this life when the world shifts as it tends to do. David always set the things of God before the things of David. He did not trust in the princes of this world but in the God he knew would never change and we need to do the same. Then when the end of a matter comes it may be bittersweet but you are not shaken. This brings us to our key verse, which to be honest I had heard of before but never considered until today. Why does God say the end of a matter is better than the beginning? I believe we can look at two reasons today.
The first reason is that it means we have finished something that we started. To me there is nothing more frustrating than incomplete projects. Things that we never get to see the end of. When something is over however, you can reflect back upon the work that was done. At the beginning you are filled with uncertainty. At the end you are filled with a sense of completion. If the matters at hand are evil than their conclusion is a welcomed sight, no doubt. The valley sometimes can be very long and grueling. I am sure when Joseph went from the prison to the palace he was quite happy that those 12 years had finally come to an end. When the woman with the issue of blood finally pressed through to touch the hem of the garment of Jesus and she was healed I am sure she was quite happy those 12 years were finally over. If the matter was good though it may be harder to appreciate the end of the matter being better than the beginning but that leads us to the second reason. The end of one season signals the beginning of another and God always has another level for us to go to.
"Write this letter to the angel of the church in
Hallelujah! What doors God opens, no one can close and what He closes, no one can open. When we see one chapter in our life coming to a close we need to remember that God still has the pen in His hand. He is not done writing yet beloved. The truth of the matter is if it were left up to us we probably would stay where we are and avoid change as much as possible. God is always trying to lead us upwards to a new level in Him but sometimes we just sit down where we are and get comfortable. The end is better than the beginning because the end forces us to move on sometimes even if our flesh doesn't want to. It forces us back to God for direction as well. The end is better because we know God will not leave us there. There will be a new beginning. There will be new challenges. God will open the doors that seemingly no one else can.
Thirteen years ago I walked into this building and to be honest I could not possibly envision the path I ended up on. It was all God. I thought I knew what I wanted but God knew better. As I sit amongst the boxes that are filled up with the past decade or so of my life my soul is downcast because the end has come but my spirit is hopeful and looking toward the future, trusting that God is opening another door to a new beginning. I remember when He did it thirteen years ago and I was uncertain where it would end up. I can say now looking back that the end of this matter, no matter how bittersweet today may be, is still infinitely better than the beginning was.