Beginnings and Endings
Beginnings and endings happen constantly and most of the time they are good. So many of them take place that we often don’t even notice them. Then there are others we cannot ignore. The Bible tells us that there is a time for everything.
Ecclesiastes 3:1, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”
A season or a time indicates a limit – a beginning and an ending. Winter ends and Spring begins. Life is a process of beginnings and endings in every area of our lives. My thick, curly, brown hair ended and my new beginning is now fine and white! While that one is funny, others are not.
Major Life Changes
New beginnings are generally something we look forward to. Starting a new job, buying a new house or a new car, going someplace new on vacation. Other beginnings are life-changing. For instance, your first child will change your life in ways you never imagined. You start a new life as a parent. This is a beginning with many transitions and each transition has an ending. Your baby stops crawling and starts running! Your teenager stops hugging and starts eye-rolling. High School ends and College begins. The full nest ends and the empty nest begins.
All of these are natural passages of life which we anticipate and know are normal. Our children are supposed to grow and leave home. Our baby should learn to walk, Promotions and new jobs are normal and hoped for – especially if they include a raise!
There are other times in life where beginnings and endings are not so pleasant or anticipated. Dealing with big life changes can be hard even if you know they are good. You have to move because of that great new job. It is stressful and painful because you may be leaving friends and family behind. Major life changes can happen when someone in the family develops a debilitating disease. My middle son, at age 44, learned that he had Young Onset Parkinsons. His and his family’s lives are forever changed by this disease. It was not anticipated or desired but – you can’t change it or undo it.
Learning How to Deal With Major Life Changes
Our challenge is learning how to deal with those big life changes – especially the sudden and bad ones – and coping with the lack of control.
There is a quote which says – every end is a new beginning. That is very true. However, I know from experience that there are some totally unwanted endings and beginnings. When my husband was killed in a motorcycle accident, my life ended. It didn’t, but that’s how it felt. However, my life as I had known it ended. I didn’t want this ending. Didn’t ask for it and definitely did not anticipate it.
How Do I Embrace My New Beginning
July 26, 2019, marked 4 years since his death. The day before, I was questioning – how am I supposed to feel? What am I supposed to do tomorrow? I’m tired of being sad. I loved that man from the time I was 16 until he went to heaven. Our life together was all I knew and all I wanted. Then – it wasn’t – it was gone. ‘We’ was now ‘I’ and ‘Married’ became ‘Widow.’
Last year I remarried and now have a wonderful life with a man I love. In 2015 I could not even think of such a thing. The future was bleak because it didn’t contain my husband. Thankfully, my second husband also went through the loss of his spouse and we each understand that we will also miss and love those two people. We also understand that we love each other.
So, what was I supposed to do? As I considered all of this I realized that I was also weary of setting aside one day to remember the end. What I wanted to do was celebrate my past blessings and the new beginning God gave me. Yes, there was an ending in between but it is not the focus.
For those of you who have endured a similar loss, you understand my reluctance to say that I want to celebrate my new beginning. Why? Because others might think I was glad my first husband was gone. Nothing could be further from the truth but it’s still hard.
Celebrating the Past and the Future
I resolved that from now on this particular date would be a time of celebrating the blessings of the past and of the joys of the new beginning because have a new life and a wonderful past. I went through hell to get it but it was there waiting for me to discover it.
After my late husband died, I didn’t want a new life and I told God so. I am so grateful for His mercy and patience because I didn’t want to make plans for this ‘new’ future I didn’t want. I was refusing to embrace any so-called ‘new beginning’ because I didn’t want it. The pain was horrible and I could not see past it for a while.
All of this is normal. But, just because something is normal doesn’t mean we like it or want it. It’s normal for one spouse to die before the other. It’s also awful, painful, heartbreaking and vision-killing.
Ruth and Naomi
The Bible talks about bad endings and beginnings. The book of Ruth tells of two women who endured something terrible – Ruth and Naomi. The story starts as Ruth and her husband Elimelech lived in Moab with their two sons, Mahlon and Kilion.
“Then Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons. The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later, both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband.” Ruth 1:2 NLT
Naomi then decided to move to Judah because the crops were good. Her daughters-in-law wanted to go with her but she released them to go back with their own families. Orpah, after shedding many tears, decided to go back but Naomi refused. Naomi’s statement to Ruth is the source of many wedding vows – wherever you go I will go, etc. Neither of them could foresee the blessings God was already preparing for them.
Naomi Was Bitter
The two of them arrived in Judah and Naomi was inconsolable. When women who had known her previously asked, “Is this Naomi?” she replied:
“Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara, or the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer[b] and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?” Ruth 1:20-21 NLT
I can’t imagine the depth of her grief and pain. I understand the pain of losing your husband. Naomi also lost her sons and I have no idea how that feels but I imagine it to be worse than the loss of a spouse. Having your children die before you is not natural or anticipated. So Naomi grieved. At the same time though, her new beginning was already in motion through Ruth. Eventually, Naomi and Ruth found life and joy again and were able to step into their new beginnings.
Noah and the Flood
Noah and the flood is another example of bad endings and beginnings. Can you imagine having everyone and everything you have ever known disappear and die? Noah and his family lost friends, acquaintances, their home. Then, they had to live in a giant boat with lots, and lots of animals. I don’t call that a good beginning because they had no idea how long they would be there or what the world would be like when they finally landed somewhere.
In every situation, mine, yours, Naomi’s, Noah’s, the new beginnings came uninvited, maybe unwanted, and with great pain attached. Yet, relentlessly they came.
Finding Peace in New Beginnings
So how do you come to peace with that terrible ending and the unwanted new beginning? Even if they are not as severe as death, they are still hard.
First, I have to say that I don’t know how anyone without faith can get through these things. For me, it was God who sustained me and brought me to today. So, your first step is to fall into the arms of God. His mercy and love will carry you.
Choices We Have to Make
Even though we know that our total dependence is on God in these times, it’s also true that we have a part to play. If we are going to come out of the ending in victory, we have some choices to make. We make choices such as:
- Allowing ourselves to grieve the loss
- Taking time to adjust without pressure from yourself or others
- Praying. Prayer doesn’t have to be alone on your knees on rocks and lasting all night. It can be simple words like, “God, please help me.” “Jesus, I need you.” God knows.
- Making tiny decisions like getting out of bed, getting dressed and doing something. Wash the dishes, read a book, go to your garden, or do some other simple tasks.
- Keep people you love near. Yes, there are times when you need to be alone in order to fully grieve the ending. But, too much isolation feeds the darkness that lives in the ending. Opening your doors to those who love you lets more of God’s light in.
- Begin to give thanks.
- Hang on to hope in God alone.
Creating a New Life
Here’s the point. When there is a bad ending with a beginning you don’t want, it’s ok to feel that way for a while. Grieve and work through the things that are in front of you right now. Trust that God is in charge and maintain your hope in God. You are not putting your trust or hope in a person or situation. It’s in God and the knowledge that He will take care of you.
Four years ago, I could not have imagined how wonderful my life would be right now. I didn’t want to imagine it. However, God was at work on my behalf preparing it for me anyway. The one thing I did was keep my hope and faith in Him. I knew He was holding me in His hand, and, in the midst of horrible turmoil, there was a peace deep down inside, the peace that surpasses all understanding. God bypasses our understanding and gives us what He knows we must have.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV
God knows what we need before we do, and in His great love for us, He always creates a way. He knows every ending from the beginning.
“Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’” Isaiah 46:9-10 NKJV
Our Faith is in God
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NKJV
Our Hope is in God
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 26:11 NKJV
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 NKJV
“For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Romans 8:24-25
“The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy.” Psalm 147:11 NKJV
Our Love is For God
“So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ” Luke 10:27 NKJV
“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:15-16 NKJV
“We love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 NKJV
“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16 NKJV
“ For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NKJV
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV
Our Peace is From God
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you [a]will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NKJV
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 NKJV
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 NKJV
“For the mountains shall depart And the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.” Isaiah 54:10 NKJV
Every Ending is a New Beginning
Good and bad endings and beginnings will come throughout our lives. No matter what comes, you are seated in heavenly places. Regardless of how you feel or see your situation, this is the truth. You are seated with Christ, raised up in heavenly places. Hang on to that as an anchor for your soul.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:4-10 NKJV
Now, let’s turn that into a prayer:
“But because of his great love for me, God, who is rich in mercy, made me alive with Christ even when I was dead in transgressions—it is by grace I have been saved. And God raised me up with Christ and seated me with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to me in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace I have been saved, through faith—and this is not from myself, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For I am God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for me to do.”
As the ebb and flow of life carries us along, we encounter the good and the bad of life. If we are His, then He is the unbreakable and unbroken thread which holds everything together, woven through each second of our lives. Threads of love, joy, peace, power, and all that He is are interwoven and cannot be broken. When pain hits and we feel we are falling, those same threads catch us and lift us back up.
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