In Ecclesiastics 3:1 we read: “To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heavens.” As I read this passage again, I wondered if we really have any idea what this passage of scripture is about. We think we do, but do we really ….
One translation puts it this way, “Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses.” That’s the way this verse is presented most of the time…. that things happen because it’s the time which God chose for them to happen.
Honestly, when I was younger that was the way I thought about this verse and AT TIMES it didn’t make me very happy, with the choices God was making for my life. It raised the question… “Why would God choose for this to happen to me at this time or any time?”
Have you ever felt that way? To be honest some of you have had to face some pretty difficult times in your lives. It may be that you have lost husbands or wives or children to death or you have serious health issues which many are probably not even aware. It may be that you deal with the stress of being a caregiver or work for a demanding employer, maybe in a job you don’t like. Life is filled with frustrating times (seasons of change).
Just last week I met with yet another specialist regarding my back injury. He told me that he considered me permanently disabled and I would never be able to do any physical work. I have to admit that that statement hit me harder than I had imagined it would. In fact I’m still processing what that means to my life. Yet, I don’t believe for a minute that God caused this to happen to me. I have taught for years: That God does not interfere with our lives or make bad things happen to us.
I have often used Ecclesiastics 9:11 as proof of this idea…. “I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all.” (ASV)
A modern translation puts it this way: “I realized another thing, that in this world fast runners do not always win the races, and the brave do not always win the battles. The wise do not always earn a living, intelligent people do not always get rich, and capable people do not always rise to high positions. Bad luck happens to everyone.” (GNB)
Now, looking back to Ecclesiastics 3:1 I would like you to understand something about this verse and the following verses. They are written by a man trying to give help us understand that: First there is a design or pattern to our world. And Second that we live in a world which is constantly changing. One paraphrase puts verse 1 this way, “There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth” (The Message)
Here is what I am trying to say…. We can get mad at God at the changes in our lives; we can become like the fatalist that believe we have no choices in this life and therefore give up all hope. The other option is that we can struggle like the rest of the world, with the idea that things are going to change in our lives, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad and get on with our living our lives and try the best we can to serve God.
Pay attention to the words of Paul in this modern translation of 2 Corinthians 4:11-18 for herein we find the answer to the problems we face in this life.
“Throughout our lives we are always in danger of death for Jesus’ sake, in order that his life may be seen in this mortal body of ours. This means that death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
The scripture says, “I spoke because I believed.” In the same spirit of faith we also speak because we believe. We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus to life, will also raise us up with Jesus and take us, together with you, into his presence. All this is for your sake; and as God’s grace reaches more and more people, they will offer to the glory of God more prayers of thanksgiving. (Esp. Vs 16-18) For this reason we never become discouraged. Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day. And this small and temporary trouble we suffer will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble. For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts forever.”
My prayer is that you may find peace in your many seasons (changes) in your life.
Russ Lawson is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with his column Today’s Challenges. He is semi-retired and an elder at the Mid-County Church of Christ. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.