For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: ...
(Ecclesiastes 3:1). (ESV).
The concept of "season" can be very helpful when pondering the difficult events of our lives. No matter how painful an episode of existence might be, it will soon pass and change. There is "a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; ... (3:4).
Talk to a well-traveled missionary friend and you will hear sad stories about poverty and deprivation. You will also hear inspiring stories about people who were remarkably happy and sang songs even though they owned next to nothing. We know too, that the most powerful testimony comes from people who felt utterly lost prior to hearing the gospel.
These paradoxes and peculiarities are the stuff of life. They are also fuel for faith. The Teacher in Ecclesiastes makes a very important observation about the ways of God in 3:11:
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.
Only an eternal perspective can make sense out of the complex events and emotions of life. The Lord has put eternity in our hearts. We are intended to yearn for meaning and to crave everlasting life. God has revealed many things to us, but we still require faith. The beauty of creation, in all its multi-faceted glory, is one of the things that motivate our search for truth and hope for eternity.
Think of the difficulties we raise when we try to deny this! If we live in a random, chaotic universe, without God, there is really no reason to admire a sunset, smell a flower, or observe an animal. There is no reason to attach any significance to the concept of beauty. With God, however, we know that we were intended to enjoy and appreciate the natural, created world. The world we see before us is astonishing; the world that awaits us in eternity will really be something.
Rick Warren states:
You have an inborn instinct that longs for immortality. This is because God designed you, in his image, to live for eternity. Even though we know everyone eventually dies, death always seems unnatural and unfair. The reason we feel we should live forever is that God wired our brains with that desire! The Purpose-Driven Life (Grand Rapids: Zondervan). Pages 36-37.
Solomon understood a great deal, but he did not live to observe the life, death and resurrection of God's only son. Our levels of confidence and joy can go beyond those of this wise man of the Old Testament. It is faith that puts work and relationships in proper perspective. It is faith that helps us to understand that God is in control, that he created us for a reason and that he loves us more than we can imagine. It is this very faith that we think we must struggle to obtain but then realize it is a gift that is effortless to receive. Praise be to our saviour, Jesus Christ the Lord.
In faith and fellowship,