The Apostle Paul assures us in Romans 8:28 that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him and who are called according to God’s purpose. That is not to be misunderstood as saying that God causes only good things to happen to his people, but rather that whatever does happen to God’s people will ultimately work for our good, because God causes it to do so. In the middle of the chaos and the storm wrought by tragic events, it is often difficult to see any good coming out of it. This assurance from Paul says that the good will come.
This same idea is put forth in the writings from Ecclesiastes. Take a moment to meditatively read through this poetic set of duplets:
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)
There 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.
Some of those items are disturbing, ugly, and painful. A time for war? For dying? For killing? For uprooting, tearing down, weeping, and hatred? The definitive statement that opens the poem is unmistakable. To every thing, there is a season, and there is a time to every purpose under the heavens. As objectionable as some of those elements above may be, I find the same sentiment in Ecclesiastes that I find in Romans. Feel the assurance of verse 11a, “He has made everything beautiful in His time.”
That makes my heart melt!
He finishes the verse saying, “He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (NIV)
As men and women, we are eternal beings, with eternity in our hearts, but we forget that so easily, because we wake up every morning in this linear existence. We are tied to this timeline like a helium balloon on a string, struggling, yearning to break free, but for now, this is where we are. We live an existence of frustration, because we are men and women created in the image of a holy God, yet we live in a world of sin and death. We are created eternal, yet we live in a time-bound universe.
The key (for me) in verse 11 above is the timing of it all. The pronoun “His” is not physically there, but it is implied, and it could legitimately be translated either “its” or “His.” Given that our days are numbered, and God holds the number of our months (Job 14:5), and all our times are in God’s hand (Psalm 31:15) I accept that God will make everything beautiful in His time rather than my time. With that understanding, I can take something of an oxymoronic view of life wherein I see God’s beauty in the ugliest of circumstances, because it will be beautiful in His time.
Victoriously in Christ!