Rather than being out of control, there is a rhythm to life and a season for everything. Although we may be in a time of lament, there is hope yet.
“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten….” (Joel 2: 25)
“2020 has been a year of disappointment. I’ve given up on looking forward to anything…”
These were the despondent words of a man in a group chat on social media which caught my eye a few days ago, where others shared similar sentiments. 2020 has certainly been a challenging year for many people, even aside from the Covid crisis. I know countless individuals who have endured extra stress and hardship on top of the pandemic, including the diagnosis of new chronic illness, the loss of homes due to a fire and an eviction, job losses or downgrades in position or wage, marriage break up, shattered dreams and sick children. There is no denying that 2020 is proving a difficult year for many people and it is no surprise that many are losing hope.
Reflecting on this global sense of hopelessness, I felt God lead me to this well-known passage in Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8:
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
This passage implies that rather than being “out of control” or random, there is a rhythm to life and a season for everything ~ a divinely appointed purpose and reassurance that our sovereign God knows all. Although we may be in a time of lament where familiarity has been uprooted and torn down (verses 2-3), a time where we mourn and weep (verse 4), a time to refrain from embracing (verse 5), a time where we have had to make sacrifices and give some things up (verse 6), a time when life seems torn and where we have been isolated by silence and lack of social interaction (verse 7), and a time when some are literally or symbolically at war with others or within themselves (verse 8), there is hope yet. For every word of lament, there are words of healing. Why not re-read the passage and focus on those for a moment?
Although this is a season of grief and mourning, there will be new birth (verse 2) God will plant new seeds and opportunities in your life if you allow him. Notice that there will be a time to heal and to rebuild (verse 3). Whatever you have lost can be rebuilt, whether it is a brick and mortar house lost to a fire, or whether you need to rebuild your confidence, hope, or a relationship. If you are unwell, there will be a time of healing. It may seem impossible right now, but you have the promise of God’s word. Nothing is impossible for God (see Luke 1:37).
If you are mourning a loved one, a relationship, or any other loss, a day will come when you will dance again (verse 4), and if tears have been your companion more than laughter this year, you have God’s word that you will laugh again. Psalm 56: 8 says that God keeps track of all our sorrows. He knows and understands your grief. A day is coming when it will pass, and you will be at peace again and able to find happiness and laughter once more.
If you are missing human touch and connection, feeling the isolation of loneliness, you will feel those warm hugs again. The day will come when we can embrace one another once more (verse 5). If you have been unable to keep that which is precious or significant, there will be “a time to keep” that which has been lost (verse 6) and likewise in verse 7, there will be a time to mend whatever has been broken or damaged. There will be time to speak, and your voice will be heard (1 John 5:14), a time to love and a time for peace (verses 7-8).
A new season will come, because it is part of the rhythm of life and because our Lord is a God of re-creation and restoration. He is in the renewal business. The One who brought good news to the poor, restored those broken in heart, proclaimed freedom for those held captive, healed the sick, found the lost and granted joy to his people, came to rebuild and reclaim all that opposed his Kingdom. I will leave you with one of his promises of restoration, found in the Old Testament. Claim it as his truth:
“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.” (Joel 2: 25-26)
Prayer: Father, thank you that you are indeed a God of restoration and re-creation. There is nothing that your hand cannot touch or redeem. Help us to lean on your word and your truth as we walk through this season, and to look forward to the fulfilment of your promise that we will see new life as the season changes; a time when we will heal and re-build, embrace and enjoy, love and laugh once again. Thank you Lord, In Jesus Name, Amen.