Photo Credit: darthjenniSome people, in the face of extreme hardship, or loss, or grief, find comfort in the well-known, often over-used adage that “God never gives us more than we can bear.”  Having sat with so many people over the years who have been given more than I could ever imagine bearing on my own, and having seen so many people completely overwhelmed, even crushed, by the burdens that life puts on their backs, I personally do not believe in the old cliché.  Even still, I would never argue the point with someone who chooses to believe it while in the midst of their own personal struggle.  Each of us has our own way of understanding God’s role or agency in such struggles, and each of us has our own way of persevering with hope through the worst of them.

What I do believe, and what is central to our faith as Christians, is that the worst of our struggles very often create the conditions by which new life is made possible.  God creates life where once there was – or seemed to be – no life; God restores to life that which, by all accounts, has died.  Out of “nothingness” or chaos God made the world, and in every personal experience that feels very much like “the end of the world” for us, God beckons us to new life.  From Genesis to Revelation, this is the common thread that holds the entire Biblical story together, and which sustains each of us with hope, even in our darkest nights.  In our end is our beginning.

Even as we may believe this, it is highly unlikely that any of us would personally sign up for the ride.  But it will come nonetheless – little “endings” like disappointment, loss, grief, and the ultimate “ending” that none of us can put off forever.  I think this is why Jesus, facing his own end, taught us not to fear, or lose hope, in the midst of our own.  “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains but a single seed; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).  This is more than some Pollyanna smile placed over life’s hardships.  Rather, it’s a hopeful, daring confidence that arises from the Christian’s conviction that no matter where life takes us, the God who created us is there with us to recreate us again and again.

Every one of us, while enduring life’s hardships, will invariably wonder, “Why is this happening to me?”  That question is entirely permissible, and often advisable.   The Bible is full of faithful people who asked such a question, often while shaking a fist at God.  But for the one who perseveres – whose life will indeed bear much fruit even after hardship – the most important question of all must finally be asked: “What is God doing now?”

In our end is our beginning, as it was with Christ.



Photo Credit: darthjenni