[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.