Preaching on Ecclesiastes 3, the preacher said: "There are only two things that are certain in life. First, we all will die. Secondly, it's certain that life is uncertain."
It may sound harsh and grim, but this is a fact of life. Life is unfair, and unpredictable.. we can go on planning to achive our dreams but even if we do attain that, there is no guarantee that it's gonna be smooth sailing. Or that the happiness may be short-lived.
I'm an optimist by nature.. and the truth is life has been good to me.. although I have gone through some sufferings and trials that are not not material/physical in nature.. but compared to some other serious sufferings - be it health, relationship, financial etc.. I could really count my blessings.
But who says life is fair? even the Almighty never promised a bed of roses to even those faithful ones.. this is the reality of living in a broken world.
Ecclesiastes is a beautiful book.. in the surface, it sounds quite pessimistic.. but it is a book full of wisdom and the philosophy behind is enlightening. I especially like Chapter 3 - entitled `a time for everything'..
Ecclesiastes 3 - A Time for Everything1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
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,
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.
9 What does the worker gain from his toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his 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 men will revere 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 thought in my heart,
"God will bring to judgment
both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
a time for every deed."
18 I also thought, "As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath ; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the spirit of man 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 man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?
We may not know the reason why we have to weep, or hate, or be at war.. But on a personal level, trials and pains often make us stronger and closer to God (or the other way round). We know at the end.. everything is in His hands.. it's He who can give and take away.
I like what the preacher said at the end.. there are many little things in life that we so often take for granted, but if we see it as a blessing from God, we would be grateful and happy..
Yes, there is always a time for everything. But only in His time that he will make things beautiful and right.
A church friend asked me over lunch what if my supposed job offer doesn't work out? (since it's nothing in black and white yet and I have to wait a while - I guess she was asking whether I have plan B)
I just replied casually - `remember the sermon just now?' and we all just laughed.. Honestly, at times I did think of it a bit, but now I'm more assured that I should just trust that God will guide me..
After all, there is a time to toil and a time to unwind; a time to slog and a time to slack... ;)