A Season for Everything
By Jim Kirchner, Campus Pastor
“1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
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.
9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.”
I’ve been thinking about this passage for a while now.
The author, most likely King Solomon addresses himself as “Qohelet” which means “The Preacher”. The Qohelet shows two pairs of opposites or extremes, somewhat like brackets or parentheses, showing that most of life happens in between these extremes. For example, verse 5b says there is “a time to embrace and a time to refrain.” This is a time to refrain (social, physical distancing). Certainly, we are used to life existing in a balance between those two.
Living in the Dichotomy
First, “a time to plant and a time to uproot.” It’s approaching springtime, which means my wife and I have planted a portion of our garden. We prepared the soil and we planted the heartier seeds that can face a frost or two. Now for a time, we leave that seed alone and God does His miracle of making that seed grow into a fruitful plant. We participate with Him by watering, pulling weeds, and tilling the soil around it when the plant is a little stronger. Someday we hope to enjoy some fruits and vegetables.
Do you know what we don’t do? We do not go out and yell at the plant to get going and grow faster. We know that this will happen in due time. Remember the first part of the passage that says “There is a time for everything.” Is there really a time to yell at a plant, or in life to fret, worry and panic? No, this is omitted from the passage like many other items as that would not be consistent with the full counsel of God in the Bible.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Next, verse 4a says there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh.” A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I had to bring our daughter home from college. Like so many other students, her classes were abruptly canceled for the semester as well as graduation. She is a senior, and after working hard for four years this was a difficult transition. When we all gathered at home, I could see the disappointment in my daughter’s life. Because I had been studying this passage, I mentioned that we should as a family weep with her. Immediately, I saw a demeanor change as her disappointment was validated. Circumstances remained but it was “a time to weep.” This is a season for us to weep with all those going through difficult situations: physically, emotionally, financially, etc.
We like to say that Valor students are “the object of our affection.” In many ways, now is also a time to weep with them. We still do not know what some of the final decisions will be and we certainly hold out hope for special moments and opportunities with our students. Now, however, it’s okay to weep with them and their disappointments, but also not get stuck there because we know that God has seasons for us when we can become more mature in our faith, closer as families, learn new skills, continue our education virtually, and more.
Speaking of seasons, in the natural world seasons happen in God’s good timing. We cannot rush seasons. We do not push out the end of winter and usher in springtime before it’s due. We may have another snow or two here in Colorado. When spring comes and we have 5 days in a row of rain, we can’t push for summer. When it is 90-100 degrees in summer, I can’t push for my favorite season of fall. No, all these happen in their own time.
The Puritans called difficult seasons of life the “Dark Night of the Soul.” While not every person goes through such a time, the duration of such times can be about 2-3 years. Most everyone who has gone through such a time would state that they never want to go through another time like it in their lives, but would not take back having gone through it because they allowed that season to change them and help them become more like Christ!
I do not know whether this is a “Dark Night of the Soul” experience. What I do know is that we are in a different season with a chance to plant some new seeds. It won’t be rushed, it will be God’s timing, and it gives us an opportunity to mature and grow, perhaps more in this season than in any other season of our lives.
There is another season that we are in the midst of right now – Easter. Easter is a game-changer. It is where sin and death were defeated by the sacrifice and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Hallelujah! We have the victory, that which overcomes the world and every season. May it be so!