Ecclesiastes 3 is offered to us today as a lesson that brings a word of reality into our study of God. The writer, who refers to himself as ”Teacher,” says that God is in every part of creation and is present in every moment. Times of planting and uprooting, times of throwing stones and gathering stones, times of keeping and throwing away … everything comes under God’s purview:
1 There’s a season for everything
and a time for every matter under the heavens:
2 a time for giving birth and a time for dying,
a time for planting and a time for uprooting what was planted,
3 a time for killing and a time for healing,
a time for tearing down and a time for building up,
4 a time for crying and a time for laughing,
a time for mourning and a time for dancing,
5 a time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones,
a time for embracing and a time for avoiding embraces,
6 a time for searching and a time for losing,
a time for keeping and a time for throwing away,
7 a time for tearing and a time for repairing,
a time for keeping silent and a time for speaking,
8 a time for loving and a time for hating,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Even the jarring examples he offers are part of God’s plan. It can feel disconcerting to read that there is a time for killing, a time for hate, and a time for war. Yet we know that in acts of self-defense and in times of battle, killing happens. We know that hate is too often experienced when people engage in anger, sin, and revenge. Yet perhaps it is understandable when we hate evil, injustice, and anything that opposes God. We know that wars are inevitable on earth and will not cease until Christ returns. The Teacher sought not to condone or approve of these things, but merely to pull the listener in with relevant examples. In like manner, he also assured us that there are times when weeping, laughing, mourning, and dancing will be our response to something. We may have little say over things that happen to us, but how we respond to them is important. The Teacher encourages us to respond with trust.
By being so specific, the Teacher has captured our attention. But the comfort that he intends to impart is found in the first verse: “There is a season for everything, and a time for every matter under the heavens.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Our Creator set the stars, the planets, and the seasons in motion at the beginning of time. Our Creator is present with us in every matter and every minute. Our Creator is watching everything that happens under the heavens.
Our Creator is here, with us, in it all. What comfort! What joy! To know that things aren’t just randomly happening to us, but that everything has a purpose, is the word of hope we need for today. This word of illumination should bring peace to our hearts. God is in control. God is omniscient (all knowing). Even better, God is omnipresent (always present).
God controls time …. the best of times and the worst of times. Whatever you are going through right now, God is IN IT with you. Thanks be to God!