Tuesday Devotional: Ecclesiastes 3

bibleThere is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    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 from embracing,
    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.

What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

15 Whatever is has already been,
    and what will be has been before;
    and God will call the past to account.

16 And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there.
17 I said to myself,
“God will bring into judgment
both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
    a time to judge every deed.”
18 I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”
22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work,because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?

The older we become, the more complex we find our lives to be.  With each passing year we come to the realization that life as we knew it is far more complicated and delicate than we had once envisioned.  While in childhood we saw one or two directions that life could follow, we come to find out that these two simple directions branch out into hundreds of smaller ones that we often have difficulty navigating through.  However, as we grow older we are also brought into levels of blessing that were unthinkable as a child, and many come to the understanding that life is more precious than we’d thought and far shorter than we’d like.  Throughout life we learn that while we all encounter moments and situations that were less than desirable at the time, all of them held value from a holistic perspective.  If life was simple when we were children, life was also incomplete, lacking the experience of life’s subtle intricacies that include the “good” and the “bad.”  As one comes into a greater understanding of God and how he views our lives and world we live in, we discover that he desires two things for all of us.  First, he desires that we use this life.   If we view only the “good” moments in our lives as useful, we will never understand the journey or the story he has created for us to experience.  For example, if one watches a movie only for the “good” moments that we like, we’ll never finish an entire movie and will never understand the ones we start but never finish.  Second, God desires that we enjoy this creation that he has put us in the middle of.  While we share humbling similarities to the animals that we share this planet with, we will always have something they don’t.  Our hearts long for more, long to reach farther than we see possible in this life because we were created by the One who originally created us to experience and have those things for which our hearts ultimately long.  Receiving joy in this world is not receiving joy about this world.  Receiving joy means finding meaning in the One who placed us here, to be used by Him and to be thankful for what He daily gives us.

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