Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 (NKJV)
1 To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
2 A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to gain, And a time to lose;
A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
7 A time to tear, And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
8 A time to love, And a time to hate;
A time of war, And a time of peace.
This famous passage–which has spawned reflections, books, and songs for years– is the musings of the Preacher concerning the cycle of life and its many parts. It speaks to the seasons of life which cycle through, sometimes multiple times, in the course of one’s life. Birth and death happen to everyone. Planting and harvest are natural parts of the plant cycle, and the culmination of the labor exerted to bring food to the table. War brings death, and peace then heals. You must tear down obstacles in order to build in their place. Every has times of sorrow and weeping, but everyone also has an opportunity for laughter and joy. We lose people or homes or relationships, and over them we mourn. But we dance and celebrate over births and weddings and new jobs, etc. These juxtaposed experiences, like gathering and scattering, embracing and refraining from embracing, gaining and losing, keeping and throwing away, tearing and sowing, silence and speaking, loving and hating, war and peace, are all experiences that everyone walks through.
They are common to man. They are fun and they are boring. They are encouraging and they are depressing. They lift you, and they crush you. Life is full of turns and twists along the way. The encouraging message in this passage, though, is right in its first few words: to everything there is a season and a time. While it is a little sad to think that your babies will grow up and leave you after you had such an exciting time watching them come into the world. However, it is also comforting to know that the sadness that comes from the death of a parent or grandparent will not be that deep anguish forever, for that season will pass as well. Joy passes, sorrow passes, but God walks with us through it all!