There is a Time
“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.” (NIV) Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
One of my leaders in Israel, Simcha Natan does awesome devotional videos that you can go on Youtube to listen to. She is brilliant. (See the link below) One of her newest ones was titled: “Do You Know Your Season?” and she said that knowing your season is a skill.
Being a “skill” implies that it is not something we may know without looking carefully at it. This statement intrigued me and this question, “Do I know my season?” has been rattling around in my head for a few weeks now.
I am not 100% sure if I know my season and when I read the list above from the Bible in the book of Ecclesiastes, I have to wonder where I am in the list.
I can even apply this principal to the world, this unprecedented time, what season are we in?
I was tending to think of seasons like: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter when I heard the title. I moved on to retirement, sunset years, older, mature etc. Simcha had a different view to this.
The list from Ecclesiastes has no timeline or reason to it, except that perhaps it is a list of life. All of the above things may, could or possibly will happen to us. There are no guarantees of when, where or how things might happen and when we read the list there are many of us who can relate to a lot of those things mentioned.
“A season for every activity under heaven.” Maybe my problem is that I am not sure what the definition of “season” is. Perhaps the word “season” might best be defined as “transition.”
Life is a series of events or transitions that move us from one thing to the next.
Definition of Transition: I find it interesting that the word transition is both a noun (person, place, thing), and a verb (action word).
“the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another. Noun
undergo or cause to undergo a process or period of transition. Verb”
But what if you are in a season of darkness, where the bleakness threatens to overwhelm you, the night appears endless and you have no light in sight in your life or perhaps even in the world?
What if you are in a season of mourning and heartbreak and you wonder just how the world can continue on in it’s daily cycle… no one seems to see your pain? You feel totally alone.
Are you stuck in the season of sickness? Your body has given in and you may not be in control of it anymore, it controls you and what you do, there are now limits you have never endured before. Mine lasted 3 and a half years, it seemed endless, painfully hard and void of life.
What do we do in these seasons, these seasons where we feel more in a barren desert with nothing and no one to help, where hope has been changed to despair, depression has replaced joy and pain has slid in to snuff out all hope? Where do we go? “Where is God?” gets replaced with the doubt of “Is there a God?”
Ecclesiastes states there are opposite seasons:
War and Peace
Love and Hate
Weeping and Laughing
I eventually found in my dark nights, in my mourning seasons, in my weeping that God was there too.
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
It was not that I discovered God’s presence the first time in my despair, perhaps not even in the 2nd or 3rd times but eventually I allowed myself to explore the darkness, to feel my way around, to be open to the process. I had before shut up and shut down, continued in my pity party mode and closed myself off to any chance there was anything good in the pain and or in the sucky place of darkness.
But God is gentle, and God is faithful, He pursues us. Yes, He does, He comes after us with intensity, with perseverance and He accompanies us to the dark, He continues to guide us even in the midst of the pain and dark. He never leaves: He promises us this in Deuteronomy 31:6-8. We often cannot see or feel Him because we focus on ourselves, our pain, our limitations, crying out about the unfairness of life.
I liken these dark periods of time as a flower, not an open blooming flower but perhaps more like a tightly wound rosebud. It gets placed into water and it slowly starts to uncurl. Each petal starts to unwind one at a time, much like a tightly held fist, we reluctantly let go and the flower begins its dance of opening until finally the entire flower has unfolded into an exquisite display of beauty.
In my self pity I could not open, I would not bloom or explore what else there was in the darkness, in that heaven forbid period of “waiting” that most of us hate, so I stayed closed, shut off, I refused to drink the water of life.
Seasons or transitions enable us to grow, they are dances that change up our steps, helping us to reach further, to learn more so that we may approach the next transition time with more knowledge, confidence and wisdom.
God never leaves us, nor does He ever forsake us. It can feel like it! It can feel so dark you have no idea where God is – I get that! I started to realize that the seasons, the transitions are ebb and flow, they come and they go and this offers hope.
We flow from one season, one transition to the next: there will be good and there will be bad because my friend that is life. God does not promise us, ever, that it will always be good, on the contrary He informs us that there will be trials, there will be dark, there will be pain but He says there will also be joy, light, and laughing again. Psalm 30:11
What I take as hope from the verse in Ecclesiastes is that there are 2 sides and like in nature where we are guaranteed that light (day) follows dark (night), we know the sun will rise after the moon. We see life sprout on the trees and in gardens in spring and know that life will be dormant soon when we watch the leaves flutter down in the fall. We do not give in to despair in winter when we can only see sticks that used to be leafy trees or the brown grass that looks dead (or covered in white depending on where you live), we know with certainty that life will once again bloom in the Spring. Ebb and flow, transition from one season to the next.
And so it will be with us, this season we are in now, is preparing us for the next season to come. Life will not always continue on “as is”, life is not static, it can never stay the same, there is change and with change comes excitement that we are being prepared for the new adventure.
Our attitudes can be changed by this shift in our thinking: what season am I in now? Study this question and allow yourself to know that this season is a training ground, a season to prepare you for the next phase of your life.
As we walk in these uncertain days amid pandemic, isolation and masks, we can take hope for the world because it too is in a transition, a training ground. A period of time where we are being pressed, molded for the next steps, the next season of the “world”.
Will it be good? Will it be bad? I do not know, but I know this from watching the trees, I had better learn to bend if I do not wish to be broken. I can stay hard and stubborn or I can be pliable and lean.
The choice to continue to grow and shift is all up to me. I pray I remain bendable all the while knowing that as my mom stated all my life that for this season: “this too will pass.”