How do we deal with unexpected endings?
In one of my favorite movies, “When Harry Met Sally,” Harry tells Sally that when he buys a new book, he jumps to the ending and reads the last page first so he knows how the story ends.
When I’m reading a book, I’ll admit I often peak at the last page so I know the ending. In fact, I love spoiler alerts for movies and TV shows. That way, no matter what I watch on screen, I feel better because I'm not surprised by an unexpected ending.
In the past few years, I’ve walked through a few of my own unexpected endings. First, uprooting our family for a cross-country move, a heartbreaking divorce, and a sudden layoff from a job I loved.
Before these endings happened, I would have loved a spoiler alert or to have jumped to the last page so that I could have known they were coming and would be better prepared for them. Instead, I overanalyzed how I could have prevented them. Questions in my mind would spiral downward into worry. Why did this happen? What am I supposed to do now? How will I manage? I couldn’t see past the end and felt a hopelessness that whatever came next would be bleak.
Maybe you've walked through some of the hard endings too? A job loss, a shuttered business, or the end of a dear relationship. It may be hard to see past the ending to something else. The situation seems hopeless.
In Ezekiel 37, the Lord leads Ezekiel to a valley filled with very dry bones. Very dry. Not a shred of life left on them. These bones were symbol of Israel's condition while in exile.
“So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them, they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army. Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’" Ezekiel 37:10-14, NIV
These verses brought new meaning to my endings that looked hopeless. They showed me that when I experience an ending, God always breathes life into a new area of my life. My circling questions and worry that dwelled on the end of something prevented me from seeing what I should have focused on: God’s infinite power and ability to begin something from an ending.
We all experience endings.
They are the very places that God creates spaces to begin something we didn’t know we needed. When we come to the ending, we don’t have to dwell on it or linger on the reasons why it happened. We only need to look to the One who will provide a beginning. When we know the One whose story we are in, we can watch the beginning of the new story unfold with trust and faith that even though we don’t know the ending (or the beginning of the next thing), we know Our God the Creator breathes life into things that seem lifeless. We can grieve the things that have ended in our lives and rest in knowing that the Lord God is breathing life into areas we never knew were possible.