“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.”
I have to keep it quick tonight, but I wanted to spend a moment reflecting on this passage. Our youth pastor taught on it this morning, and it was exactly what my aching heart needed to hear. God is so good, and His timing is perfect. Which has a lot to do with this passage.
These “times” or “seasons” that Solomon talks about in these verses happen to each of us, to varying degrees. We all face changes in our life. Shifting of circumstances, opening and closing doors, hard times and happy times. These changes tire us, and frustrate us because – whether we’re in a good season or a bad one – we never know when it will end. We can’t stop the changing of the times, just as we can’t grab a shifting shadow and pin it down. And the reason this frustrates us is that God has “put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end”… or, more simply, He has placed in our hearts a knowledge of and longing for eternity. We crave that time when change will come to an end, and we will live forever in the presence of an everlasting, unchanging, perfect, Holy God.
Now, I personally have been in a rather long season of hardship, trial, and testing. It’s been a time barren of fellowship, family, and a lot of other things I wont get in to. My whole family has kind of been left as scorched earth, barren and wasted, unable to heal without the help that hasn’t yet arrived. We are doing all we can to trust God and press forward in the direction He’s aimed us, but there are still long stretches of discouragement we must fight through. This last week was especially bad, and Saturday the pinnacle of bad days. I went to church with the weight of the world on my shoulders this morning, praying that somehow God would encourage me to press onward. My youth group has been going through a series on Ecclesiastes, and as always, God knew what He was doing. He opened my heart to our pastor’s teaching, and fed my soul with the gospel truth of this passage.
Our hearts long for eternity, but we must live our lives in a fallen world, filled with change and instability. This passage tells us that life is constantly changing, going from one season to the next in a never-ending cycle. So where can we find the hope to press on in this monotonous, heavy circle? In God. Because, while everything else will change, God remains the same. He created the change! It’s much like fighting with sea sickness. As the waves toss you about and your stomach starts to churn, you must fix your eyes on a stable point, perhaps a lighthouse in the distant shoreline. This steadies you, gives your mind a reference to set you straight. As Christians, we must keep our eyes locked on the solid point of Jesus in the rolling waves of trial. He will get us through. We can’t hope in the changing of circumstances, or the end of a season. Our only hope is to grab onto our everlasting God that will never change, and hold on for our life. As our pastor said so eloquently: “The only hope in an ever changing world, is to hold on to an everlasting God.”
And so, dear friends, I will leave you with the words of James. I hope they encourage you as much as they did me.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”