“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven ~ A time to give birth, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to tear down, and a time to build up. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, and a time to shun embracing. A time to search, and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep, and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; 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 profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves. He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor, it is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him. That which is has been already, and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by.”
Life is measured in moments of contrast: moments of celebration and moments of devastation, moments of laughter and moments of tears. Yesterday’s bombings at the Boston marathon are a dreadful reminder of how quick life changes. In the midst of this event celebrating the pinnacle of man’s strength and endurance, all of the moments of life seemed to collide at once. What should have been a moment of great celebration turned instantly ugly and full of terror. In a heartbeat, life changed again.
An eight year old boy enjoying a day out with his family is licking ice-cream beside his dad and watching the race and the very next moment he is taken violently from this world by the angry blast of a hidden bomb.
Moments like this remind us all that we are not as “in control” as we think we are.
As creatures who long for comfort and control we are unsettled most of all when we hear stories like this. We long to “fix” it. To set things right, the way we would want them to be, but the truth is we can’t. There is no fixing what has been done. Time cannot be negotiated with. Moments pass, and they never return. We only get one chance to live this life and it comes with no guarantees of easy living.
It’s not hard to spot change in life – it’s everywhere. Spring turns to Summer, Summer becomes Fall, Fall leads to Winter, Winter becomes Spring. The Young become Old, what’s New today becomes Old tomorrow. You are not the same person you were 5 years ago.
No, life does not stay put. The pages of our story continue to turn. Days turn to weeks and months and years. Love and heartbreak lies ahead for all of us. Nobody escapes this life unchanged.
But where was God during the Boston marathon? Was he caught off guard by the attack?
The writer of Ecclesiastes doesn’t think so. He puts God right in the middle of it all saying, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.”
God is in control.
God has a purpose in what happens even if we have a hard time understanding what that purpose is.
Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Change can be uncomfortable and even devastating at times, but we must never confuse the changes in life as changes in God’s plan. He is not sitting in his heaven with a bowl of popcorn watching events unfold from a distance and responding to them with surprise or shock. He knows the end from the beginning and has ordained every moment of our lives before they have ever been. He knew the families would be sitting directly beside the bomb when it detonated. He knew the joy of that moment would be ruined by the evil plans of the cowards who planted the bomb.
Joseph (of the Bible) knew this to be true as well. He knew the Lord was in control of every event of his life. After all the pain and suffering he experienced from his own brothers selling him into slavery and being wrongfully accused of adultery and thrown into prison, Joseph was elevated to a place of great influence in Egypt.
In Genesis 50:20 we see his brothers (the same who sold him into slavery and lied about his death to their father) reunited with Joseph the overseer in Egypt. When they realize who he really is they are devastated because of the evil they had done to him. But Joseph, having lost years of his life to the lies and sin of his brothers boldly states: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
Literally, Joseph is saying “as you were plotting evil (past tense), God was plotting the same things for good (past tense).”
Yes, life is going to change. Bad things are going to continue to happen and it is only going to get worse before the end of our story. But even as it does, let us never fall into the trap of thinking that God is for one moment not in control of it all.
And that brings me to my final point.
Live each moment to the fullest!
So what are we to do? Should we respond by living in fear of every moment? Should we worry about change in life?
By no means! All you can see today is the middle of God’s work, not its end. Live authentically in the season of life God has you in, but never lose sight of him. He alone knows the beginning from the end and He has us all where He wants us. This fact alone should bring confidence and joy to those who believe in him.
If you have a husband or wife, enjoy them. If you are blessed with children, enjoy them. Never take life, or the Lord for granted. Embrace each moment and bring as much joy and love into your world as you can. Being a part of God’s amazing Story is a wonderful place to be.
“I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor, it is the gift of God.”
We should be confident that God will make all things beautiful in his time (even the painful stuff). He is plotting good even now. We just have not seen the end of the Story yet.