1For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV)
We left off yesterday with King Solomon noting that life “under the sun” – life without God – is pointless and without meaning. Instead, we find meaning in our lives by living for God and recognizing that all comes from Him.
To that end, there is a season for everything, and a time for every matter under heaven. Notice that Solomon refers to life here as “under heaven” as opposed to “under the sun”. He is going to look at life from God’s perspective now in order to identify how to find meaning in all that we do here.
The overall statement by Solomon in these verses is that there is a time and a place for everything, both good and bad. In order to understand life we must recognize two things. First, that there are some things that are outside of our control.
We cannot control the time we are born nor the time we die. Similarly, we don’t control the natural and annual cycle of plant life. God has created the world such that the time to plant is in the Spring and the time to pluck up what is planted is in the Fall. We have no say in these matters. They happen when they happen because God has ordained it as such. If we want to enjoy life we must understand that there are things in life that happen when and where and why they do because that is how God wants.
But secondly, we must understand that there are events in our personal lives that, while we may not be able to control either, we can control how we react to them. For example, there is a time to weep but there is also a time to laugh. There is a time to seek (i.e. make a change in our lives) and a time to lose (i.e. let go of something in our life that is not good for us).
There is a time to keep silence and a time to speak. I think we can all relate to that one. There is also a time to love and a time to hate. There are things that God hates and that we are to hate as well, such as sin. We are to love what God loves – people. But we are not to love behavior (e.g. abortion) that God does not love.
There is even a time for painful experiences such as mourning and war. All these experiences are part of God’s plan for our life. The problem is they are not part of our plan for our life. Mankind seeks to avoid all unpleasantness but even if that were to happen it would not be helpful, it would be even more harmful.
We live in a fallen world. Our rebellion against God has introduced – and even necessitated – some painful things in life. God recognizes that. God uses such experiences to teach us.
The point Solomon is trying to make with this poem is that God has designed life to work a certain way and we cannot enjoy life if we don’t adhere to this design. When we fight against or alter God’s design of life we make it harder to enjoy life even though we think we’re doing the exact opposite.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.