A Time for Every Season
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“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”—Ecclesiastes 3:11
This is a big life lesson. There is a time for everything. There are seasons. Regardless of what season of life you are currently living through, you can probably expect a change at some point, because, as we know, seasons come and go.
For example, if you are currently struggling and times are very difficult, you can be confident that the season will change. When Solomon wrote the preceding scripture, he gave a lot of examples of the seasons and ways our lives can change:
A time to be born and a time to die
A time to plant and a time to uproot
A time to kill and a time to heal
A time to tear down and a time to build
A time to weep and a time to laugh
A time to mourn and a time to dance
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them
A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing
A time to search and a time to give up
A time to keep and a time to throw away
A time to tear and a time to mend
A time to be silent and a time to speak
A time to love and a time to hate
A time for war and a time for peace.
We were all born and we will all surely die. There are times when we will laugh and times when we will cry. There are times to hold on and times to let go. Times to succeed and times to fail.
One of the most beautiful promises in the Bible is given in this same chapter: “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Whether you’re in a good or a difficult season, you can be sure that it’s all part of it becoming beautiful within God’s time. “He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”3
I like the part that says, “no one can fathom.” When I was younger I had so many plans, ideas of what I wanted my life to look like. Most of the ideas I had for my life were good, or at least I thought so. I wanted to be able to rush to anywhere in the world that needed help. I wanted to help orphans and wipe out poverty. But God had a plan for me that I did not fathom.
I’m still watching that plan develop, but I’ve learned enough to know that God’s design is more far-reaching than anything I could fathom. I’ve learned that God is present in both times of sowing and times of reaping. And something else I’ve come to realize is that both seasons are repeating.
A farmer plants his crops every spring and harvests them every fall. Each year. He doesn’t get upset that he’s planting again another year. He doesn’t scream out in frustration, “I just did this last year!” The farmer knows the cycle will repeat every year, and he’s okay with that.
In that way, we should all make peace with the season in our lives. There is a time to laugh, and a time to cry, a time to sow, a time to reap, a time to give, and a time to receive. When the sad times come, sometimes it’s hard to remember that there’s usually a lot of happiness. When things disappoint, it’s easy to forget about all the things that have worked out wonderfully.
To God, one season isn’t more precious than another. He can use each season in our lives to bring about His design. Sometimes I think that God is smiling on me when things are going great, and that a trial or misfortune means I have fallen out of His favor. But experience has taught me that this is not so. A great artist will use lovely, bright colors—reds, yellows, purples, and blues—to convey their inspiration, but not without the contrasts of black, the muting of the grays, and the blurring of the whites.
You have to trust the Artist. His work speaks for itself, and time and again, He has proven that He does indeed make everything beautiful in His time. Your life is no exception to the high and low seasons. And neither is it an exception to the promise that it will be beautiful in His time.—Mara Hodler4
Seasons of life
Life is made up of many different seasons. And not just seasons like winter, spring, summer, and autumn. Different seasons of life for different emotions and different responsibilities.
What does it mean? The Lord created different seasons in our lives to shape us, help us deal, and create us into who He intended us to be. He uses seasons to show us that He is good and can “make everything beautiful for its own time.”5 Seasons (good and bad) are ways for God to capture our hearts and our faith.
What does it mean to me? God will change the season of life I’m in when He’s ready to change something about me. There are some more difficult seasons, but the Lord just wants me to trust Him through each and every season. No matter what kind of season I’m going through, I can remember that God always promises to make it beautiful in His time.—NewSpring Church FUSE6
God’s reasons for the seasons
Even from the lips of an atheist, an agnostic, or a person who has put very little thought into religion, one is likely to hear the statement “everything happens for a reason.” The idea of destiny pervades our culture, showing up in everything from astrological predictions that say our fates are governed by the stars to romantic movies in which the message is that the two protagonists are destined to be together. In all of these cases and several others, however, it is an impersonal force of some kind that is supposed to be governing things. Rarely, if ever, is there mention of a personal being who is directing and giving purpose to all things.
As many Christian philosophers and apologists have pointed out, however, impersonal reality cannot give anything meaning and purpose. By definition, purpose is the property of personal design. Only personal, thinking beings can act with purpose; a mere force just is. For example, gravity in itself does not act with intentionality; it is simply there, a given reality that does not make plans or direct things to an appointed goal or end. Things do not have an ultimate purpose merely because we want them to—if there is no creator God directing all things, the idea that everything happens for a reason is mere wishful thinking.
Thus, when we approach a passage such as Ecclesiastes 3, we must keep in mind that the Preacher is operating under a framework that assumes the existence of Israel’s covenant-keeping God who has purposes that He cannot fail to accomplish.7 … The times and seasons mentioned in Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 encompass all of life, including its beginning (“a time to be born”) and end (“a time to die”), the agricultural cycle (“a time to plant, and a time to pluck up”), and much more.
Life is repetitive in many ways, but it is not an unending circle. There is advancement toward a God-ordained goal, and part of that involves appointed times and seasons that are put in place by the personal Creator. It is not that “everything happens for a reason”; rather, “everything happens for God’s reason.”
There is a time for every season and purpose under heaven because the Lord determines it. Our lives and our world are not controlled by some impersonal fate but by the gracious God who has a plan that extends even to what we might consider the most insignificant things in the world. He works out all things according to the purpose of His will,8 and we can rest knowing that nothing takes Him by surprise or throws Him off course.—Ligonier Ministries9
Published on Anchor May 2020. Read by John Laurence. Music by Daniel Sozzi.
3 Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV.
4 Adapted from a Just1Thing podcast, a Christian character-building resource for young people.
5 Ecclesiastes 3:11.
7 Isaiah 46:8–11.
8 Ephesians 1:11.