“The end of a thing is better than its beginning” (Ecclesiastes 7:8).
IT’S A BLESSING WE DON’T KNOW THE EXACT DATE OF OUR DEATH, BUT SOMETIMES WE CAN KNOW WE’RE APPROACHING THE END, AND WE OUGHT TO APPROACH THE END WITH A CERTAIN EAGERNESS. After all, we can’t have our cake and eat it too. We can’t reach toward God and still cling to this life at the same time. As our “departure” (2 Timothy 4:6) draws near, we ought to tingle with the excitement of a child anticipating summer vacation!
(1) The closer we are to the end, the more we have to be thankful for. Life in this world can be hard, without a doubt. But even at its hardest, there are always things to enjoy: snow in the winter, flowers in the spring, a friend’s smile, a grandmother’s hug. The longer we live, the more these things tend to accumulate — and to give pleasure. When we’re old, we’ve had more time to be blessed.
(2) The closer we are to the end, the more we can put things into perspective. It takes time for some things to make sense, and when we’re young, we haven’t lived long enough to look at events from anything but a very short perspective. Toward the end, however, we can judge the value of things much more easily, because we can see them within a larger context. Age widens the lens of life.
(3) The closer we are to the end, the closer we are to being with God in heaven. Paul wrote that “to depart and be with Christ” was “far better” (Philippians 1:23) than staying here. How can we think about being with God and our hearts not be set on fire with joy? Even now, “our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11), and at the end of this life it will be even nearer.
Whether we like to admit it or not, there are some things that can only be enjoyed at the end of life. Yes, there are some joys that are unique to youth, but lest we try to prolong our youth, let’s not forget the very special blessings of old age. With life as with many other things, “the end of a thing is better than its beginning.”
“It is the great mystery of human life that old grief passes gradually into quiet, tender joy. The mild serenity of age takes the place of the riotous blood of youth. I bless the rising sun each day, and, as before, my heart sings to meet it, but now I love even more its setting, its long slanting rays and the soft, tender, gentle memories that come with them, the dear images from the whole of my long, happy life — and over all the divine truth, softening, reconciling, forgiving!” (Feodor Dostoevsky).