Bent Out Of Shape – Ecclesiastes 3.11

Today is another example of a verse that is no stranger to social media. Again, I’m not against people sharing Scripture online (far from it) but we really have to know that we’re getting it right before we offer it out to others. You wouldn’t knowingly bake a cake with the wrong ingredients and serve it to a friend, would you? Ecclesiastes 3.11  is just like that: 

Maybe your Bible says something like the picture: God has made everything beautiful in its time. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? You know, whatever you are working through at the moment, don’t worry if it’s difficult, because God has made everything beautiful in its time. Is that what the main voice we hear in Ecclesiastes is teaching us? Let’s see…

In vv.1-8 of chapter three the teacher shares a poem of extreme opposites designed to show that everything we encounter in our human lives, both good and bad, comes in its own time and season. He is teaching that we don’t control these seasons, and that God is the initiator and author of these seasons. He then says this:

“God has made everything fit beautifully in its appropriate time, 

but he has also placed ignorance in the human heart 

so that people cannot discover what God has ordained, 

from the beginning to the end of their lives.”

(Ecclesiastes 3.11)

If we think about the popular, often flower-enhanced version of this verse, that God has made everything beautiful in its time, this doesn’t fit with the ‘everythings’ of vv.1-8 that includes war, hate, death, killing, weeping, and mourning. Are those things ever truly beautiful?

What the teacher is teaching here is that we cannot control our lives as much as we may like to, but what we can control is our attitude (vv.12-15). 

We can choose to enjoy what is in front of us now, today, rather than looking ahead to coming times and seasons. 

We can choose to love and cherish those the Lord puts in our path whilst they are in our path. 

We can choose to honour God above all else in our lives in the midst of changing times and seasons. 

We can choose to take a positive and Jesus-focused attitude into the day and all that it may bring.

We can choose to work wholeheartedly at everything we are doing today, as if working for the Lord Himself. 

We cannot choose the times and seasons we are in and about to move into, but we can choose our attitude whilst we’re in them.

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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