In “Why is there so much despair in the world?”, I wrote that in the first 2 chapters of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon showed how empty life can be when you live from a temporal perspective. Solomon described the restlessness in a person’s soul that can only be relieved in a relationship with God. As I shared in that blogpost, “no accomplishment, experience, possession or relationship can satisfy our deepest needs. Only God can.”
In Ecclesiastes 3, we read a well-quoted passage about there being a time or season for everything. “A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted…” This passage teaches the seasons, or cycles of life. There is a time for everything, and God is ultimately in control of these seasons or cycles. They include both happy and sad occasions. This is the reality of life: it is a tapestry of both good and evil; joy and suffering.
What does the writer tell us about God in the light of this reality?
- He has made everything beautiful in its time. In other words, even in the most tragic circumstances, the Lord will bring out beauty. As we read in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Mercy and brotherly compassion shine the brightest in the darkest of trials.
- He has put eternity into man’s heart. Deep within the human heart is the understanding that there is more to life than just living a materialistic existence. There is an awareness of a creator, an afterlife, morality, and a desire for meaning and purpose beyond the temporal. We have needs for security, love, and significance that cause us to desire and seek the Lover of our souls, the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who created us with those needs and can uniquely satisfy them. During times of joy or difficulty, we can depend on God’s love for us.
- Whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. This tells us that God’s work is eternal, complete, and secure. Faith in Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross guarantees us eternal life. Nothing can be added to it (eg. our good works) and nothing can be taken from it (“It is finished” Jesus declared when he had paid the penalty for our sins). No one can snatch us out of the Father’s hands (John 10:28,29). We may go through difficulties in this life, but if we have placed our trust in Jesus, our salvation is secure.
- God will judge the righteous and the wicked in his time. Although we see injustice and corruption on earth now, we can be assured that God also sees, and one day justice will prevail.
- He has gifted us with the privilege of eating and drinking and enjoying the fruits of our labor while on this earth. Although these are not our purpose in life, they are blessings from God to be appreciated.
These truths give us hope, not despair. We can enjoy the blessings of God and his presence while we are on this earth and look forward to living eternally with Him where there will be no more sin, evil, oppression, suffering, or death. Now that’s something to rejoice in!