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 cast 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 cast 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. What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time….
Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 ESV
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” This well-known expression has been around for centuries. According to the online Cambridge Dictionary, it is “used to express the fact that not all people have the same opinions about what is attractive.” In other words, my beautiful is not necessarily your beautiful.
Now from the human perspective, this makes sense, for we all see things a bit differently. Good to me may not be good to you. Nevertheless, in the above passage from Ecclesiastes, I believe Solomon wants us to take away a unique perspective on beauty: God’s beautiful does not always seem beautiful to us, but this discrepancy does not negate the inherent beauty of what God has ordained. Every season we travel through is beautiful in God’s eyes, even if we can’t see it or can’t understand it. For if God makes everything beautiful in its time, then what God declares beautiful cannot be ugly.
This past weekend a friend lost her husband of many years and our family lost a beloved mom, grandma, and great grandma. And with each loss of life, we grieve, for death is indeed a season of saying goodbye, of losing a companion, of missing the face to face fellowship. Death means no more phone calls (even the accidental ones our grandma was notorious for), no more texts, no more visits, no more crazy stories at family get-togethers. Death creates a distance that cannot be closed this side of heaven. For death separates this life from eternity. Nevertheless, even as we mourn (something natural, expected, and also uniquely beautiful in its time), we must not lose sight of the beauty of death. Psalm 116:15 declares, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Paul told the Corinthians, “We are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). He also told the Philippians in 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Death is something we will all face. Eternity awaits all of us. Yet there is beauty in knowing that our death here on earth marks the beginning of our life in heaven with God. Therefore, I encourage you (and me) today, to ask God to help you see the beauty in death, to even see the beauty in the grief. Alfred Lord Tennyson penned the well known lines: “Tis better to have loved and lost // Than never to have loved at all.” In other words, when our hearts hurt at the loss of a loved one, there is beauty in knowing we had someone to lose.
Now I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the following to you: God makes everything beautiful in its time. Yes, everything. Even this. Sickness and health. Birth and death. Work and no work. Short commutes and long commutes. Certainty and uncertainty. Whatever “time” you are in, God makes it beautiful. If you can’t see it today–if you are reading this and thinking, “How is this beautiful?”–then I encourage you to ask God to show you the beauty as you trust in His divine wisdom in allowing this season at this time.
The last part of Ecclesiastes 3:11 reads as follows: Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. Although we can ask God to help us see the beauty in everything, we must also remember we will never fully comprehend the beauty within every season we travel. But we do have hope, for God has planted a bit of eternity in each of us. God has given each of us that measure of faith necessary to be able to mourn with hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13) and to understand that “now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now [we] know in part; then [we] shall know fully, even as [we] have been fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV).
God does not promise that every season will be easy. God has not promised that every season will seem fun. But He does promise to make every season and every time beautiful. In His eyes. So go forth with hope and with confidence today knowing what God beholds beautiful is beautiful indeed. Even this.