There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.Ecclesiastes 3:1
We now have come to the third chapter, which describes the combination of opposites in our experience. Throughout this chapter the idea is propounded that there is an appropriate time for all of life's experiences.
There is an appropriate time for everything, the unpleasant as well as pleasant experiences. This is not merely a description of what happens in life; it is a description of what God sends. Many of us are familiar with the Four Spiritual Laws, the first of which is,
God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. That is the plan that is set forth here. All along, the Searcher is saying that God desires to bring joy into human experience. Many people think Ecclesiastes is a book of gloom and pessimism because of the findings based on the writer's limited view of those things
under the sun, the visible things of life. But that is not the message of the book. God intends us to have joy, and His program to bring it about includes all these opposites.
If you look carefully, you will see that these eight opening verses gather around three major divisions that correspond, amazingly enough, to the divisions of our humanity: body, soul, and spirit.
The first four pairs deal with the body:
a time to be born and a time to die (Ecclesiastes 3:2). Notice how this applies to the physical life. None of us asked to be born; it was something done to us, apart from us. None of us asks to die; it is something God determines. So this is the way we should view this list of opposites, as a list of what God thinks we ought to have. It begins by pairing birth and death as the boundaries of life
under the sun.
Then the Searcher moves into the realm of the soul with its functions of thinking, feeling, and choosing—the social areas—and all the interrelationships of life that flow from that. Verse 4 tells us there is
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. All these things follow closely, and they are all appropriate.
No one is going to escape the hurts and sorrows of life is what he is saying here. God chose them for us. In a fallen world it is right that there will be times of hurt, of sorrow and weeping. The last six of these opposites relate to the spirit, to the inner decisions, the deep commitments. There is
a time to search [for work, marriage, new friends] and a time to give up (Ecclesiastes 3:6). There comes a time in life when we should curtail certain friendships or change our jobs, for instance, and lose what we had in the past. It is proper and appropriate that these times should come.
All of this is God's wonderful plan for your life. The problem, of course, is that it is not our plan for our life. If we were given the right to plan our lives we would have no unpleasantness at all. But that would ruin us. God knows that people who are protected from everything almost invariably end up being impossible to live with; they are selfish, cruel, vicious, shallow, and unprincipled. God sends these things in order that we might be taught. There is a time for everything, the Searcher says.
Father, thank You for all the experiences of life that You have planned for me, so that I might be conformed to the image of Your Son.
Are we learning to see God's wise direction and providence in the contrasting experiences of our lives? If we were in charge would the result be wholeness & joy?