11 God has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:11-13
What a bold, startling, and incredible statement of Scripture this is, that “God has made everything beautiful in its time”! What a comfort and encouragement in time of trouble and heartbreak.
My introduction to this key passage of Solomonic wisdom came years ago through Pete Seeger’s old folk song, made famous by the Byrds:
To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep…
Because there is an appointed time to every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1-10) Solomon leads us next to the one inescapable conclusion: “God has made everything beautiful in its time.”
But I read the wise man’s confident conclusion and wonder, because I do not see everything as beautiful in its time. I do not see God’s handiwork in all that is happening. Rather, I see tornados furiously wiping whole towns off the map. I see earthquakes and tsunamis, massacres in the streets, crack babies, and metastatic cancers. So I argue with God, “Where is the beauty of everything in its time?”
This is the kind of wrestling with God that we were created to do. God ” has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Creating us in his own image and likeness God hardwired us for eternity. He put eternity into our hearts so that we long to see the big picture. We want to know, as he knows, the whole from beginning to end. With eternity roaring in our hearts, we have the deep-seated compulsion to grasp the unfathomable and to understand God’s incomprehensible ways. We long to know the meaning of galaxies, atoms, light years, and yes, our own lives.
But we cannot know the harmony of God’s handiwork, or take in the symmetry of his ways. We cannot fathom what God is doing, Solomon says, “from the beginning to the end. We cannot see the beauty of the finished whole. Not yet.
But from here to eternity Solomon says that, “…there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. God is at work, Solomon reminds us, so enjoy!
You and I live too close to each day to take in its incomparable beauty or to grasp its eternal significance. But one day we will see, and one day we will know what God is doing with us “from beginning to end.” Then we will see the picture whole and we will know that what we do today counts forever. But until then, Solomon counsels: “there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.” Be happy, Solomon urges us, eat, drink, and find satisfaction in whatever God gives us to do today.
I got up with the sun this morning because I had so much to do. And yet again, another day came and went and I did not get everything done that I had hoped or planned. And one day our last day will come, and we will not have gotten everything done with our lives that we hoped or planned. But that will be okay, because God gives to each of us enough time to carry out his appointed purpose. Be sure that the divine Artist knows his craft well. He is making everything beautiful in its time.
The days of the years of our lives are few, and swifter than a weaver’s shuttle. Life is a short and fevered rehearsal for a concert we cannot stay to give. Just when we appear to have attained some proficiency we are forced to lay our instruments down. There is simply not time enough to think, to become, to perform what the constitution of our natures indicates we are capable of. How completely satisfying to turn from our limitations to a God who has none. Eternal years lie in His heart. For Him time does not pass, it remains; and those who are in Christ share with Him all the riches of limitless time and endless years. (A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy)
Grace and Peace–Tim