For everything there is a season.
There is nothing new under the sun.
In a couple months I will leave 40 behind and enter my, ahem, 40s. I may be the old lady at work, but I must say the view from here is most interesting. If I look one direction I see the beauty of aging and non-respecter-of-persons sickness. I see wisdom, fulfillment and end of life. If I look the other direction I see young families, a flurry of activity, youthfulness, hope, newness and start of life. Either direction I see joy and I see struggle. Of course there’s some overlap either way I look, but one theme that is sinking in to my middle-aged spirit – there is nothing new under the sun. Ecc. 1:9. I wonder if Solomon was middle aged when he wrote this???
Joy has been here since the beginning and heartache will be here ‘til the end. In life you will interact with some real gems and some real jerks. New experiences will always exist and old habits may never die.
It is strangely comforting. And humbling. And convicting.
In an ego-centric age where my crisis > than yours or no one can possibly understand what I’m going through – we are stopped dead in our tracks and reminded in Ecclesiastes that yes, others have had, have and will have struggles. Others have had, have and will have celebrations. Others have felt, feel and will feel misunderstood, misplaced, misguided, mixed up. In fact, you may even feel that the season you’re in is futile, question its purpose, and even ask why. So did Solomon (Ecc. 1). From biblical times to the present people cry out to God, asking for forgiveness, comfort, help, looking for answers on one hand and offering to Him worship, and praise and honor on the other. It’s nothing new.
there is a season. Ecc. 3:1 Again, from my vantage point on top of this hill, I am starting to grasp the bigger picture. I can see in many circumstances that there is:
a time to give birth and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to uproot;
a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to tear down and a time to build;
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing;
a time to search and a time to count as lost;
a time to keep and a time to throw away;
a time to tear and a time to sew;
a time to be silent and a time to speak;
time for love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.
And it is good. All of it. Wouldn’t you and I rather just have the birth but not the death or the dancing and not the mourning? But the thing is, each of them have their purpose. That’s why in James 1 we are challenged to “consider it a great joy, my brothers whenever you experience various trials.” That’s rather counter-cultural. Society pushes multitudes of “self-help” books so we can avoid said trials. But trials have a place. And they are good. Because “the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” Trials are actually beneficial for us; they are an opportunity for God to work in us, creating a maturity that we wouldn’t have otherwise developed.
If it weren’t for trials, we would we not understand that we can rejoice in those trials or afflictions because they “produce endurance, and endurance produces proven character and proven character produces hope.” Romans 5. Hope.
Hope in an “all things work together for good” God. A loving, sovereign Father whose vantage point is ALL the way from the beginning and all the way to the end. I saw a quote online today from John Piper, “We embrace the hand we’ve been dealt, because we know the Dealer, and He never deals badly.” He’s not going to allow something to be thrown at us that isn’t part of a plan for our good and for His glory. In all of it, good and bad, we can trust that God is working in us, both to desire and to work out His good purpose. Phil 2:13
I think about this in relation to planting and subsequently closing our church. I even shared on here the certain call that we heard to plant LP. There was a time to plant. But there also was a time to uproot. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense that God would have us uproot that which He called us to plant, but He did. I even gave a bunch of reasons that lead to its uprooting; citing our failures, shortcomings and even sin. However, God could have kept the doors open in spite of our inadequacies – because it was always about HIS work anyways, not what we did or didn’t do. But it was time. And that hope in a Sovereign God is comforting when seasons change. He sees from before the beginning to beyond the end.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return there without saturating the earth and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.” Isaiah 55:8-11.
That is what it is all about. He is what it is all about. Everything has a season and nothing is really new, but He continues to accomplish what He will for His glory and our good. God is unchanging, eternal, immortal, loving, good and sovereign – and whether you’re in the cusp of delight or the cup of despair He loves you and is working in and for you in this season and the next.