No one typically wakes up in the morning thinking, “I can’t wait to be disappointed today.” Yet, for anyone who’s walked this earth very long, you know there are days that no matter how hard we try to achieve good things in life, our efforts are met with hurt, rejection, and disappointment. Even those of us who know Jesus as our truest form of joy and satisfaction will go through periods of setbacks and letdowns in this life. 

According to 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.”

I’ll admit, when I read through this passage, I dismiss the negative times of each verse and secretly wish it could only be the good times. It’s human nature to want the easy road, the high life, the laughing and dancing ALL THE TIME. But God never promises that. He tells us that we will go through sickness, grief, death, war, and hate. So, why are we often surprised when hard times come our way? 

Each Season is Important

As I was thinking about this scripture, I remembered the animated Disney Pixar movie “Inside Out” that was released in 2015. The movie follows the life of an 11-year-old girl named Riley and her five emotions—Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust—working in her mind’s headquarters to guide her through life’s ups and downs. Joy is the natural leader/boss of the operation with the goal of always keeping Riley happy. However, Sadness struggles with her assigned tasks, frustrating Joy’s plans for Riley’s perfect, blissful life. The plot takes a turn when Riley’s core memories are mistakenly sent down the dump tube, and Joy and Sadness are left frantically trying to restore them, each with conflicting ideas on how to do so. Through their struggle, Joy learns that Sadness’s role on the team is just as vital as her own, and in the end, it is Sadness, the unlikely hero, who restores Riley’s core memories. 

Just like the movie depicted each emotion’s importance in helping us process and work through different situations, I realized that each of the “times” listed in Ecclesiastes 3 are essential to the plan God has for our lives. Each season holds opportunities for God to reveal Himself to us in new ways and for our character to be refined to look more like Christ’s. So why is it still so hard to embrace these difficult seasons? 

If we see trials as God raining on our parade, we might be setting our expectations in life on false hopes and ideologies that are apart from what God has promised us and WHO God is. Of course, it won’t feel good to go through times of grief and loss. Or to let go of an unhealthy relationship. Or to tear down strongholds of sin in our life. But, if we know God is good and trust Him at His Word, we must trust that He is making true on His promise to work everything together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). 

It’s natural for us to pray that Joy will swoop in and save the day. But sometimes, we need to stop and acknowledge the Sadness (or Disgust, Anger, and Fear) of the situation we’re facing.  

He is Always There

Look at the book of Psalms, and you will notice the majority are verses of lamentation. Even the Psalmist, in worship, would cry out to God through his pain and sadness. If we just wish away the hard seasons, we might miss out on what God is trying to teach us. It is in the valleys that our character and hope are built so we can better enjoy the mountaintop experience when we get there. 

No matter how hard we try, we cannot change the confines of time; however, we don’t have to be controlled by it. It’s okay to make plans as we seek God’s will. It’s good to work towards the dreams and goals we have for our lives. Some days we might even reach them. But some days, our plans will be interrupted by seasons of waiting or redirection. We can’t predict which days, months, or years will be which, but we can know there is a constant during these varying times. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8 NIV).” He isn’t affected by time because He is the one who set it in motion. 

Hope to Keep Going

So, where does that leave us? With hope.  

In the verses following the “times” stanza in Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon boldly asks God what all of us are thinking, “God, if we must endure all this hardship, what is the purpose of living?” But the answer lies in verse 11: “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” This is the hope that keeps us going. It isn’t wishful thinking; it is a promise from God, and we can trust He will fulfill it in His time. 

If you’re striving to find happiness and fulfillment in what you can create, achieve, or set in motion on your own terms, you will be disappointed. There will be days that do not turn out like we hoped, dreamed, or even prayed for. But the fact that God can take any situation—whether good or bad—and redeem it for His glory and our good is what gives us confidence and hope.  

Embrace the season you find yourself in today, no matter how much it hurts or how uncomfortable it is. God will meet you there because He is working a beautiful masterpiece through your life’s journey. 

Mercy Multiplied exists to provide opportunities for all to experience God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, and life-transforming power. We offer multiple programs and resources online and onsite designed to equip people to live free and stay free in Christ. For more information about the services we offer, click here.

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