A Time for Everything

29861There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season. There is a time to be born and a time to die. There is a time to plant and a time to pull up plants. There is a time to kill and a time to heal. There is a time to destroy and a time to build. There is a time to cry and a time to laugh. There is a time to be sad and a time to dance. There is a time to throw away stones and a time to gather them. There is a time to hug and a time not to hug. There is a time to look for something and a time to stop looking for it. There is a time to keep things and a time to throw things away. There is a time to tear apart and a time to sew together. There is a time to be silent and a time to speak. There is a time to love and a time to hate. There is a time for war and a time for peace.

Do people really gain anything from their work? I saw the hard work God has given people to do. God has given them a desire to know the future. He does everything just right and on time, but people can never completely understand what he is doing. So I realize that the best thing for them is to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live. God wants all people to eat and drink and be happy in their work, which are gifts from God. I know that everything God does will continue forever. People cannot add anything to what God has done, and they cannot take anything away from it. God does it this way to make people respect him. What happens now has happened in the past, and what will happen in the future has happened before. God makes the same things happen again and again.

I also saw this here on earth: Where there should have been justice, there was evil; where there should have been right, there was wrong. I said to myself, God has planned a time for every thing and every action, so he will judge both good people and bad. I decided that God leaves it the way it is to test people and to show them they are just like animals. The same thing happens to animals and to people; they both have the same breath, so they both die. People are no better off than the animals, because everything is useless. Both end up the same way; both came from dust and both will go back to dust. Who can be sure that the human spirit goes up to God and that the spirit of an animal goes down into the ground? So I saw that the best thing people can do is to enjoy their work, because that is all they have. No one can help another person see what will happen in the future. Ecclesiastes 3

These are perhaps the most familiar verses concerning the seasons of our lives. Ecclesiastes 3 makes it obvious that there are many seasons in our lives. Granted, there’s a bit of discouragement and self-pity in these verses. The author is definitely not in the most motivating frame of mind.

Reflect on moments or seasons in your life you’d consider as…

  • a time to be born
  • a time to die
  • a time to plant
  • a time to pull up plants
  • a time to kill
  • a time to heal
  • a time to destroy
  • a time to build
  • a time to cry
  • a time to laugh
  • a time to be sad
  • a time to dance
  • a time to throw away stones
  • a time to gather them
  • a time to hug
  • a time not to hug
  • a time to look for something
  • a time to stop looking for it
  • a time to keep things
  • a time to throw things away
  • a time to tear apart
  • a time to sew together
  • a time to be silent
  • a time to speak
  • a time to love
  • a time to hate
  • a time for war
  • a time for peace

You might have difficulty coming up with an answer to every situation, but reflect on the list a bit longer. What comes to mind when you consider the various times of your life? It’s important to occasionally reflect on the past.

First, reflecting on these seasons of life invite you to catch a glimpse of the big picture. Despite what you’re going through right now, you’ll begin to remember seasons that were different for you, whether you define them as better or worse. You also might realize what you thought about a situation at the time you were going through it has changed as time has passed. You have a different perspective. By realizing the variety of your life and accepting God somehow weaving it together, you become less consumed with the specificity of your current situation – or loosen your tight grip on a past situation – and invite God to move in the transitions of seasons.

Second, reflecting on these seasons of life invite you to discern the difference between your own perspective and God’s. For example, perhaps you identify a time to speak up when, in reality, you’re justifying a time you spoke. You thought it was appropriate to speak up, people around you encouraged you to speak up, and you reaped benefits of speaking up. Therefore, in your opinion, it was a good choice to speak up. Perhaps, but not necessarily true. We can easily rationalize what we want to believe is God’s will. God doesn’t need for you to logically figure out what season he has you in and how you should respond; he wants you to rely on him for definition of and response to each situation. He alone knows the details and how they fit into the changing seasons of your life. He alone knows how one time prepares for another. He alone knows the ebb and flow of the tides that seem powerfully overwhelming or unfairly draining to us.

You identified situations and seasons in the list corresponding to Ecclesiastes 3, and you might be accurate with many of them. However, at least consider how you might be defining a season because it fits more neatly into your perspective instead of the reality of a situation. You might be listening to your own and others’ voices and opinions more than God’s. Or perhaps as you were experiencing something, you defined it by the overwhelming emotion but now, given time and healing, you realize God’s meaning of the season differs from yours.

Consider the list of “times” again – this time from God’s perspective.

God will give you a rich myriad of experiences in life. You might see sameness. You might see chronic negativity or put blinders on to issues. Even when you don’t understand, God wants you to take a step into his presence and perspective. He wants you to find his peace among chaos and wants you to respond to afflictions based on his compassion.

Accept the last verse of Ecclesiastes 3: No one can help another person see what will happen in the future. You cannot know what your future holds, and you cannot know what someone else’s future holds. However, when you are in God’s presence, you can know you are where you should be. Seasons will change. Your situation will change. Through the changes, you can remain in God’s presence and will. He will remain constant.

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