Better at the end than the beginning?

Published 4:43 pm Monday, February 25, 2019

The writer of Ecclesiastes stated, “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning…? (Ecclesiastes 7:8). I wonder if you agree?

If the writer means that the end of a thing is more important than the beginning of it, then I for one would readily admit that he is correct. Certainly, it is better to have a thing turn out well than simply to have it start well. But as a matter of actual fact, the end of a thing is not always better than its beginning. A year may start happily and end wretchedly. A career may start with a blaze of glory and end with an embarrassing thud.

A case in point is the biblical character Solomon. Without question, Solomon accomplished much. He reigned as king of Israel for 40 years. After King David died, Solomon secured his royal power over his enemies. Solomon built the temple and achieved great wealth. He had notable organizational skills and was an astute business man. And Solomon was reported to be a man of unusual wisdom (though in the final analogy, wisdom only in a restricted sense).

Yet, with all his significant accomplishments, Solomon was not faithful to God. God warned Solomon about having many wives and building temples to their gods.The result was that God became angry with Solomon, and after his death, the kingdom of Israel was split apart. Solomon began well but ended miserably.

Now, let’s relate all this to the whole subject of growing older.

To some people, growing older is a process looked upon as some kind of disease. These folks do everything possible, and even some things impossible, to camouflage their years. When they think of growing older they think of depression, illness, loneliness, loss of statue, unattractive-ness, dementia, uselessness and death.

On the other hand, there’s another way of looking at what it means to grow older. As Parker J. Palmer put it in his book, “On the Brink of Everything, “Age brings diminishments, but more than a few come with benefits. I’ve lost the capacity for multitasking, but I’ve rediscovered the joy of doing one thing at a time. My thinking has slowed a bit, but experience has made it deeper and richer. I’m done with big complex, projects, but more aware of the loveliness of simple things…”

As I mentioned, there is another way of looking at what it means to grow older — a refreshing way. Many see it as a time of increasing satisfaction in living. They see it as a normal time of transition — a time of taking on new tasks, deepening relationships, more time for reflection and a greater priority for the interests of God.