1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
It’s probably a given that because I subtitled my blog with Ecclesiastes 3:1 that it would be weighing on my mind lately. Conveniently it’s the first devotion I’ll be posting. I kinda pulled it out of context so that I could play with the homonym (sorry teacher vocabulary coming out) “season”. I wanted to blog about food so naturally I wanted to play up the idea, “for everything (as in food) there is a season (as in spice)”, but really what I’ve been thinking about are the seasons of life that we experience which is what this verse is truly about.
After reading John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible & Matthew Henry’s Commentary it seems that Bible buff’s are in agreement that these verses teach us that God is the mastermind of time. He has predetermined and set times for everything we will experience in life and we have no control over them. Rather than feeling powerless, it should give us comfort knowing that our timetable is in God’s hands. King Solomon is assuring us that the one constant is change. This makes me grateful knowing that even if I don’t see an end in sight to my current situation, God knows when it is and He promises to help me get through it.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
For me this is particularly good news. It means that my season of following my husband around the country while he finishes all things related to becoming a doctor will have an end. (Hopefully in less than one year!) It also means that I won’t always suffer from grocery-shopping-with-two-kids under-five-phobia. (Ask any mom-it’s a thing.) Eventually my kids will get older and with prayer and patience know how to behave in public settings. 🙂 Obviously life’s seasons can get a whole lot worse than my goofy examples, but I can trust in God’s promises.
I know that I should respect King Solomon because of his wisdom and knowledge, and there is the whole fact that God spoke through him (you know just a little thing-please hear my tone of sarcasm), but I love that he was a poet. Though I highly doubt that any one of his seven hundred wives or three hundred concubines was seduced by his poetry seeing as how he was so faithful. (1 Kings 11:3) Well, I’m just sayin’ that if he was never able to make any one of those women fall in love with him it wasn’t because he couldn’t have written good song lyrics. Anyway, if you go back and read Ecclesiastes chapter one he poetically addresses the cyclical nature of things. True, he doesn’t seem all that excited about it, what with his “everything is meaningless” rant, but I feel like in chapter 3 he is continuing to look at how God’s timing for all things is perfect and seasonal. God’s creations are cyclical so it would make sense that our experiences would be too. Shoot, the teacher in me is thinking, Well if God truly wanted Romans 5: 3 & 4 to play out, then He knew we would need multiple exposures.
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
So while I understand the importance of knowing that God is all-knowing and has already determined times of different seasons in my life, I’ve always tended to be the annoying kid in the classroom (sorry another school analogy) that wants to know, Why? After reading and rereading this chapter of Ecclesiastes I found myself asking myself, why did Solomon (or God speaking through him) highlight seasons in life that are opposites? He addresses birth and death, killing and healing, weeping and laughing and so on…(I trust that your second & third grade teachers helped solidify antonyms Haha.) I think it’s important to realize that our seasons are “good” and “bad” because we couldn’t appreciate one without the other. As our creator, God knows us and wants us to become closer to Him. How many times have I forgotten to praise God during “good times” assuming that life is good because I’m doing everything right rather than thanking Him? Then later, I only turn back to him for help in a time of struggle? Not that I’ve “fallen away” from God or anything like that, but I’ve known times when God wasn’t the center of my life and sadly, He’s been forgotten at times when I haven’t felt like I needed Him. My prayer last night focused on the antonyms of life’s seasons. Thanking God for seasons of struggle so that I can have more gratitude towards Him during times of “light” if I’ve traveled through darkness first to reach Him.
How could I fathom
your unending love,
if I’d never known moments of hate?
How could I appreciate
an answered prayer,
if You’d never asked me to wait?
How could I rejoice
in tears of joy,
if I’d never cried tears of pain?
How could I relish
in sweet victory,
If I’d never attempted in vain?
How could I enjoy
a moment of silence,
if my days never got too loud?
How could I submit
to walk in humility,
if I’d never known what it means to be proud?
How could I awe
at the beauty of sunrise,
if I’d never been encompassed by night?
How could I beg
Your forgiveness of sin,
If I’d never done more wrong than right?
How could I long for
if I’d never wandered lost and alone?
How could I anticipate
Your welcoming embrace,
if I’d never heard you calling me home?