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C.S. Lewis once wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Verse 11 of Ecclesiastes 3 is the culmination of a set of contrasting pairs meant to assure us that everything that happens is pregnant with meaning: “He has made everything beautiful in his time.” A time to be born and a time to die, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time for war and a time for peace. What, though, is beautiful about war or death, or killing or giving up, or throwing away or tearing down?
Those of us who have gone through difficult times on a personal scale, and now many of us dealing with uncertainty on a global scale, can attest to the fact that tragedy and loss are never pleasing. Over and over in the Psalms, we see David expressing the enormity of his grief, anger, fear, anxiety, and depression to God. But over and over, we see the culminating effect of this pouring out of emotion to God: praise and discovering yet another reason we need God.
What is beautiful about war and death and everything bad that comes our way is that we are allowed to go deeper in our faith than we ever could in good times. When we are financially stable and loved by others, when we are healthy and have job security, our tendencies are to stray from complete and utter dependence upon God. This is simply human nature.
We drift unless something—Someone—continually finds a way to pull us back to the anchor of our souls. How many of us, after all, can look back on difficult times and see marking points of when our faith was richer and deeper?
We cannot go so far as to say that war itself is beautiful. Or that a natural disaster is. Or that cancer is. Or that mass disease is. What we can say is that through these ashes is the possibility of God doing things beyond what we “can ask or imagine.”
We are forced into a place of dependence, and when we do so, we find our God has been waiting for us to run into his arms the whole time. Thus begins a new level of trust and faith that we would have never experienced otherwise.
In the brokenness of our world today, where can you see glimpses of the beauty of which Ecclesiastes 3 is speaking?
How can you speak that beauty into the lives of those around you who are dealing with fear and anxiety?