The end of something is better than its beginning.
Patience is better than arrogance.
Depressing as it sometimes is, I love the book of Ecclesiastes. I love it because I think the writer very eloquently captures how all of us experience life from time to time: it’s rough, and there’s sometimes not a lot of comfort to be found. It’s very real and raw in that way. It’s good to read when you’re feeling down, if for no other reason than to know that other people experience these feelings too.
And within those pages, there are also some powerful little expressions of wisdom, including this verse, which strikes me almost like a riddle.
Why is something’s end better than its beginning?
One possible meaning is that to look back on something well done is sweet – certainly sweeter than to look ahead to something with anxiety about how it’s all going to work out. The stuff we go through always looks better and easier in our rear-view mirror.
Another meaning is that by the time something reaches its end, it has matured and evolved. You’ve learned how to do it by hard lessons, through trial and error. It is better, because you made adjustments along the way.
In either case, I think the second half of the verse applies: patience is necessary. Arrogance is deadly. If you think you know all the answers off the bat, and you stop with the answers you have, you’re going to fail. You’ll never get past the beginning to reach the end. But, if you can trust yourself and the people around you, the natural process of growth and development of plans and ideas, and the God who gives you the wisdom to pursue it all, you will eventually look back and say:
“It turned out so much better than I thought!”
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Have you dreaded a task before you, because the way forward seemed so unclear that you maybe didn’t even know where to start? How did that plan/project/process turn out? How did patience help you to get to the final product? Where did you encounter God along the way?
Prayer: God, when it comes time to start new things, we are often anxious and afraid. We often don’t know how to get started. Help us not to be so arrogant as to believe that we have all the answers. Give us patience to put one foot in front of the other until we get to the place where you are leading us. Amen.