By Chris WittsWednesday 18 Dec 2013Morning Devotions with Chris WittsUncategorizedReading Time: 0 minutes
DEAR DIARY: “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 weep and a time to laugh,a time to love and a time to hate… God has made everything appropriate in its time.”
Or,as US folk musician Pete Seeger puts it,”To everything; turn,turn,turn. / There is a season,turn,turn,turn. / And a time to every purpose under heaven.”
Time. With infinite precision it marches on,never looking back. Sometimes it seems to hurry; it flies,we say. Then there are situations when the hands of the clock seem to labour in their cycle and time drags by. We measure life and its cycles in terms of time. “I’ve had a bad day”,or “It’s been a good year” we say. And the emotions of those days and years go in cycles too: love and hate,grief and celebration,laughter and tears.
The diary entry that opens this discussion is by Solomon,the wise,wealthy king who recorded his observations in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon saw life as a series of opposing events or “times”.
“There is a time for everything… [and] God has made everything appropriate (some versions say ‘beautiful’) in its time,” he wrote (Ecclesiastes chapter 3,verses 1 &11).
There is “a time to weep and a time to laugh,” Solomon believed. While we prefer life to be filled with laughter and joy,the reality is that grief and pain invade it at some point. That pain ─ be it physical,emotional or spiritual ─ is unpleasant,but the tears it brings can be a great teacher and can turn our eyes to God.
“Pain is God’s megaphone,” wrote British author CS Lewis. “He whispers to us in our pleasure,but shouts to us in our pain.”
US author Malcolm Muggeridge agrees. “Contrary to what might be expected,I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful with particular satisfaction. Everything [I have learned] that has truly enhanced my existence has been though affliction,not happiness… If it were ever possible to eliminate affliction from our earthly existence… the result would not be to make my life delectable,but to make it too banal and trivial to be endurable.”
Just as life without laughter would be intolerable,a life without pain would be shallow. Each is appropriate “in its time”.
Solomon also wrote about “a time to love and a time to hate”. The love part we can understand,but hate is usually something we are counselled to avoid. Yet,when driven by unselfish motives,hate can be a positive emotion; those motivated by it despite injustice,prejudice,racism,inequality,selfishness and greed.
Mother Teresa despised the treatment of India’s underclass and so formed the Sisters of Charity. Martin Luther King Jr hated racial prejudice and segregation based on skin colour and became the spearhead of the civil rights movement in the US. Nineteenth century British politician William Wilberforce loathed slavery and campaigned successfully against its abolition.
With love only,life would become sickly sentimental. With hate only,life would be negative and destructive. But love combined with unselfish hatred can transform individual lives,communities and nations.
Yet even though our lives have various “seasons”,they are still ─ unlike the cycle of nature ─ unpredictable. We know what happened yesterday and we know about today,but tomorrow is unknown.
It’s easy to see the beauty of life ─ its “appropriateness” ─ in laughter and love when life is kind to us. But beauty is also present in grief and unselfish hatred,although we may only recognise it in hindsight.
Whatever situation you find yourself today,God will make it “beautiful” in its time.