This morning as I was driving into work a sermon came on from a man named Chuck Smith. I’d never really listened to him preach before, and honestly, it wasn’t his preaching that struck me, it was the Scripture unit he used.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
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,
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.
What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil – that is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.
I think I was especially taken aback by this Scripture unit because lately I’ve been dreading the season I’m in. The Lord is really doing a work in my heart and I’m still not quite sure what it’s all really about. I know that there is a sifting going on; the Lord is separating the wheat from the chaff in my heart, removing that which isn’t beneficial and harvesting that which is good. But I still am not sure what all that entails.
And I’ve also been struggling with friendships and relationships, wondering who I am and where I stand in relation to those around me. Do I belong in this or that group? Do I mean as much to that person in their heart as they mean to me? Am I meant to have more of a prophets-life – one that speaks truth into people, but is really meant to wander semi-lonely most of her days?
I’ve been mourning one particular relationship for quite a while now. There are places in my heart that have been wounded and left lonely. I’ve not really submitted them to God and asked that He come in and heal that which is broken. And I’ve also not said anything to the person I’m mourning over. And there’s no healing in that.
But, as I read Ecclesiastes 3:1-14 I felt like the Lord was speaking directly into my heart. There is a SEASON for everything. And maybe in this season I am meant to just mourn the friendship. To sit and ponder the loss. There will be a season for laughter again, for embracing again, but I don’t think that season is now.
And as I’ve been processing this verse, I’m also reminded that “He has made everything beautiful in its time (v 11).” There are seasons for everything. I may sit here and sulk in this season, believing that it’s so difficult and I just want to be done with it, but beauty isn’t as powerful if it isn’t contrasted with pain, or struggle, or lack.
And I love that the section of Scripture ends with, “God does it so that men will revere him (v 14b).” Our struggles, the harder times of the seasons, they are to make the softer, easier times more precious to our hearts. God allows the struggle so that we will see his Sovereignty in it all. When we realize that every season we go through has a purpose allowed and designed by God then we will see it as an opportunity to praise the One who purposed it.
I’m also reminded of a phrase from Beth Moore’s James Study, “Between the Rains.” In James 5:7 it says, “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and .” She talked about the fact that there are autumn and spring rains, there is a dry season in between and the dry season is necessary for crops to grow. The farmer waits for the rains, which means that there are times of drought, and that’s normal… and it’s even good! As dry times come, the crop sends its roots deeper into the soil to dig for the water and nutrients it needs to survive. We need to sometimes just determine to dig deep into the Wellspring of Life, Jesus Christ, and get our roots filled with the Word of God. The dry time is a time where searching and finding God happen. And then the blessed rains come. They fall and cover over us, and they flood us with peace and joy and the Presence of God. But if the rains were always there we’d be flooded, have no root system, and we’d be scorched the minute there was any drought.
And I think that’s part of the reason for this season for me. The Lord knows that my roots aren’t quite as deep as they need be. There’s a dryer season coming, and if I don’t dig down deep now, I’ll be scorched and I’ll whither away. My rain is coming, but in the drought, I need to dig deep.
One final thought from Psalm 84:4-7:
Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca (weeping, dry and deserted), they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
As we walk through valleys that are dry, we have a chance to make them places of springs. Our attitude can certainly change our circumstances. And that season ahead promises to cover it with pools. We go from strength to strength, meaning, we endure from good time to good time, there are seasons of weakness in between, but they exist so that we can become stronger. What a beautiful promise from the Lord, that as we pass through valleys of dryness that we can be assured that there will be rains that cover over the drought with pools.
Here’s a beautiful song that encourages me, and captures my hearts cry:
think, no I know that the Lord knows my heart and exactly what I need. I’m blessed that He sent actual rain today. Just a reminder that the rains do come, that Spring is on its way. That a new season is coming, and it will be fruitful.