With the official beginning of summer and the transition from the Easter season into ordinary time, I began thinking about the seasons of our lives. I think of myself as being in the summer of my life, God willing, and in thinking of such a metaphor, I could not help but think of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under Heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn; and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
At first read, this seems to be a sequence of impossible opposites. How can a God that is all loving and all life-giving also be a propagator of killing, destruction, mourning, hatred, and war? For a constant, never-changing God, the combination is impossible, so why is this written in Ecclesiastes?
This is not written to tell us that sometimes God is for us and sometimes God is against us. Nothing could be further from the truth! This is a reminder, again, of the seasons in our life, and that while we have only a limited perspective of our time and place, God can see the portrait of all eternity, and how He has worked even the evils in our lives for some sort of good.
While the evil one persecutes us and brings troubles and hardships in our lives, God promises that they are only seasons, and asks us to patiently endure. That is easier said than done, of course, and that brings me back to the summer of our lives and to that quote from Ecclesiastes. Many of us, myself included, are fortunate enough to live in a summer of our lives. We have food, shelter, health, protection, and love. In times like these, it can be easy to fall into lives of comfort and complacency, but we must remember that just as the winter is only a season of hardship, our summers are only a season of plenty, and we still live in a world of hardship.
We must remember that it is God who has delivered us into that peace, and we must give Him thanks and glory for doing so. We also must recognize that while we may be in a time of peace and prosperity, there is undoubtedly a neighbor who is suffering in an unbearable winter. So, I propose that we look beyond our current seasons and recognize those from our past and in our future as well as those in the people around us. Let’s recognize our entire human community and the struggles we all endure and provide the gift of ourselves and of our love to help our brothers and sisters through their struggles. In doing so, we can be participants in the promise Jesus made in John 16:33:
“I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”