It’s lines like these that make Tolkien’s paragraphs about the landscape completely worth slogging through while reading the Lord of the Rings.
Here’s a brief summary for context, though only when reading can you truly feel the despair of Aragorn, Legola, and Gimli. They’d lost Gandalf and Boromir. They’d been forced to abandon Frodo and Sam. They had learned that the Riders of Rohan had killed all the Orcs and saw no sign of the Hobbits, Merry and Pippin. They started to doubt whether any of them should have set out on this journey in the first place, considering where they’d all ended up.
Then Aragorn, in the midst of his own despair and guilt, says this: “There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark.”
I’ve read these books before, but never heard this line until I was reading it aloud to my daughter. I stopped and cried, then put a sticky tab in the book so I could come back to it.
“It is better to begin.”
While we might be able to say this in the beginning of something, before the dark times arrive, how often can we still say this in the middle? And yet, can we, like Aragorn, look around at the darkness and still look forward with hope?
More importantly, can we say, “Even if the end isn’t happy, I’m glad I started.”
I think this is a key sentiment to help us persevere in our Christian walk. We are not promised that our earthly circumstances will have happy endings. We are not promised exclusively mountaintop experiences. Instead, we are promised suffering and valleys.
But here’s our hope, here’s how we can say with Aragorn, “It is better to begin”.
We are not alone
First, we are not alone in the journey. God is always with us, beside us, within us. Psalm 23 is a great reminder of this.
This doesn’t mean that beginning new things, difficult things, isn’t scary. It means we can move forward with a confidence grounded not in ourselves but in God’s power and person.
We are not purposeless
Next, because God is a God of purpose, we can trust that anything He allows into our lives has purpose. Even if we don’t see the full purpose this side of heaven. Anything we walk through, both the things we choose and the things we cannot avoid, have purpose in God’s kingdom and in our sanctification.
We know how it truly ends
Finally, we have the best ending that is ours, regardless of circumstances. We will see our King face to face and live forever with Him in glory. This is our final destination and nothing can snatch it from us.
So let’s decide today that whatever we are doing, or considering doing, is better to begin than to refuse, because the God we serve is the God of hope.
Courage, dear sisters. Let’s begin together this month.