The end of a matter is better than its beginning; Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit. Ecclesiastes 7:8
Despite the implosion of Lance Armstrong’s personal life, the Livestrong label and the Livestrong Foundation continues to inspire people to do “something” strong. You can dietstrong, playstrong and workstrong. Even towns and cities can be Concordiastrong and Bostonstrong.
Well. I don’t want to be left out. Here at the end of the school year I think it would be a good thing for us to Finishstrong. The writer of Ecclesiastes encourages me to think this way. He tells us that “the end of a matter is better than its beginning. Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.”
I suppose when you think about it, one of the goals of school is to ultimately reach the end, get a diploma or a degree and know enough to become useful in society and (especially for us) the kingdom of God. As much fun as school is, it’s really just a means to an end.
The difficulty lies in the second part of the proverb. Patience. Especially in these last few weeks when everyone is busy with sports, finals, prom, graduation and saying goodbye to your boyfriend whom you will never see again for the rest of your life. Some seniors are so eager to get it over with that they start to check out (an embarrassing ailment known as “senioritis”).
I know that we all want to imagine that we are mature and intelligent – and we want to be recognized as such, but it will all come soon enough. I find it interesting that “patience” is not juxtapositioned against impatience – but against arrogance. Perhaps the writer is trying to help us to enjoy the time we have left and patience is the key to keeping us humble. Come to think of it, a lot of impatience is due to a “haughtiness of spirit.”
And we should be humble because at the end of the year we have to look back and realize that we made mistakes. It wasn’t a perfect year. We had all kinds of potential but it wasn’t entirely sated. That’s why it’s good to be a Christian. A Christian gets to look at all those missteps and realize that when Jesus said, “It is finished” that He finished perfection for me.
And THAT is the most important lesson that needs to be learned in this school. There won’t be any grades listed on transcripts that reflect this, but it will show up in life. Some students will be coming back next year, some will be finishing school back home and some will be moving on to college, but even these things are not really the end of the matter. Learning patience sometimes takes a lifetime, but regardless of where we are at in the process, we are given the opportunity to finish strong.