Tuesday, February 21, 2017

All Things ‘Beautiful’

[God] has made everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11a ESV)

The author of Ecclesiastes has been seeking meaning and purpose.  He has considered many things in and of themselves as the goal of the search, but this has come up empty; ‘vanity!’ he cries.  Then he comes to see that everything has a time and a season; a purpose in the larger picture.  He is beginning to turn his thoughts to something ‘beyond the sun’, namely the work of the Lord. 

Everything a person experiences, listed in 3:2-8, has been given by God to the human race as part of the ‘business’ of life; and all these things God has ordained as ‘beautiful’ to their appointed time.  I believe a better rendering would be ‘appropriate’ rather than ‘beautiful’.  War, death and destruction are never ‘beautiful’, but they are still under the sovereign hand of God and therefore they are fitted into their appropriate place.

This seems to be an important pathway to making sense of life, although the following portion of the verse tells us that we cannot know everything (I will deal with this in the next post).  Yet as we see and accept God’s guiding had in all matters of life, we may begin to develop an understanding of His love, compassion and care.  In times of joy or happiness (birth, planting, healing, peace, etc.) this may be easier, because we expect and affirm God’s goodness.  But in times of hardship or trouble (death, war, grief, loss, etc.) we might lose sight of the compassion of God.  Yet these times are made appropriate, even if we don’t find them beautiful, to the season of life. 

I have used the analogy of our lives as a brick wall.  Each event is a brick that we must fit into our story.  Perhaps, as we grow and discover, we will learn more how the difficult pieces fit appropriately, and someday be able to step back and see the beauty in all things.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Life in Order

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven… (Ecclesiastes 3:1 ESV)

At the end of chapter 2 the author began to shift his thinking away from the ‘horizontal’ and onto the ‘vertical’; looking for meaning beyond the “vanity” or seeming emptiness of the world. 

As chapter 3 opens, he becomes very poetic in a realization that all things have a time and a place; that perhaps there is some order to life, and that existence is not necessarily chaos.  The list that follows in verses 2-8 (made culturally famous by the Byrds in the 1965 hit Turn, Turn, Turn written by Pete Seeger) encompasses life from birth to death and all the activities encountered during a person’s span of years.  Planting and harvesting; productivity (creating, building up) and destruction (tearing down); love and hate; joy and sorrow; peace and war; friendship and enmity; words and silence—every human experience has a place and a time.  Order within ‘chaos’.

God has ordered our days.  Paul told the Athenians that the One True God had set the paths for all humanity; ordering their lives (Acts 17:26-28).  King David knew that all the days of a person had been pre-ordained by the Lord (Psalm 139:16).  Moses prayed that God would enable His people to take a right and wise accounting of their days (Psalm 90:12). 

Our lives may at times seem to be out of our control, but they are never out of God’s control.  We may not know what each day holds—but the Lord does.  As we go through the seasons of our lives we must look to the King of Heaven for the certainty that our times are in His hands and that He can be absolutely trusted with all our days (Psalm 62:8)