Ecclesiastes 2:24-3:22; 2 Corinthians 6:3-13; Psalms 47:1-7; Proverbs 14:25
OT: “There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven: a time to give birth 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 throw stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing; a time to search and a time to count as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear and a time to sew; 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 does the worker gain from his struggles? I have seen the task that God has given the children of Adam to keep them occupied. He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts, but no one can discover the work God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and enjoy the good life. It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts. I know that everything God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of him.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-14 CSB)
When you remove God from the equation, life can (and often does) seem completely meaningless. One thing that contributes to that perception is the monotony of time – day to day, month to month, year after year, the same repetitive meaningless cycle, over and over again, ad nauseam. However, when you acknowledge God and add Him to the equation, the seasons and cycles of time have purpose and meaning. God, in His providence, has assigned a designated time for everything, and in the context of purpose, everything can be appropriately beautiful in its time. Even challenging and distressful times, when framed within God-ordained purpose, can be counted as joy (James 1:2-4).
Divorced from God, this time in which we are alive on earth can seem quite empty and futile: you live, then you die and cease to exist – completely empty and meaningless. Yet, with God, eternity is placed in our hearts – then suddenly our scratch of existence has eternal ramifications. “What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived — God has prepared these things for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 CSB). In this life, according to Solomon, there is nothing better than to be able to enjoy this life that we have been given. To truly enjoy all (the good and the bad, the happy and sad) that this life affords is a gift from God and is only possible when our lives are surrendered to His purposes. And by making life meaningful and truly enjoyable, God is glorified by all.
NT: “We are not giving anyone an occasion for offense, so that the ministry will not be blamed. Instead, as God’s ministers, we commend ourselves in everything: by great endurance, by afflictions, by hardships, by difficulties, by beatings, by imprisonments, by riots, by labors, by sleepless nights, by times of hunger, by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God; through weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, through glory and dishonor, through slander and good report; regarded as deceivers, yet true; as unknown, yet recognized; as dying, yet see — we live; as being disciplined, yet not killed; as grieving, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet enriching many; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” (2 Corinthians 6:3-10 CSB)
Followers of Jesus Christ are always on trial – by the devil who is the accuser of God and God’s people, and by individuals in the world who are looking for every reason to deny and reject the claims of the gospel. One of the greatest obstacles to the kingdom of God are people who claim to be Christians, yet fall short in demonstrating the validity of the gospel by failing to diffuse the glory of God and the fruit of the Spirit when under pressure and scrutiny. Paul knew the ramifications of allowing his life to come under reproach, so, by the grace of God, he made every effort to not do anything that would bring offense to people and sully the ministry that God had given Him. Instead, he would allow every season and every experience to testify to the goodness of God and the veracity of the gospel.
Since the time Paul had placed his faith in Christ and was called by the Lord into ministry, he had suffered afflictions (trials under pressure), hardships (everyday hardships of life), and difficulties (desperate situations with no apparent escape). He had been beaten, imprisoned, and nearly pulled apart in riots. He had been worked to the point of weariness, suffered many a sleepless night, and gone without food – all for the sake of the gospel and the ministry he had been entrusted with. Through all of that, Paul was not crushed nor destroyed – but instead, in Christ, He greatly endured. When pushed into a corner and hard-pressed on every side, what was evidenced in Paul’s life by the grace of God and the work of the Spirit was purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, sincere love, the truth of the gospel and the power of God. Paul knew that God, in His providence, had a purpose for every season. Though Paul’s life was hard, he knew that God could make everything beautiful in its time. Paul, through the faithfulness of God, was able to embrace every time in his life – the good and the bad – and come through standing. Though Paul was accused of being a deceiver, he was proven to be truthful. Though he had no glowing credentials or touted reputation, he had the audience of kings. Though there were times when he should have been killed, he was still alive and moving forward, Though he experienced much grief, he was always able to rejoice. Though he had little material wealth to his name, Paul was able to enrich many. Though he had nothing, in Christ, he had everything. Through Paul’s faith in Christ and the eternity God had placed in his heart, everything in Paul’s life was made beautiful in its time… all to the glory of God.
Prayer: Lord, there are definitely times when life seems monotonous, mundane and meaningless, but Your word teaches that every aspect of life can be full of meaning and purpose when submitted to You. Help me, by Your grace and the leading of Your Holy Spirit, to view every moment with an eternal perspective and go into each day with Your purposes in mind. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.