Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 gives us all a chance to look at how things can change in our lives. The best part of that is that God allows us to celebrate and grieve those changes, as he has made a time for everything. This concept can sometimes cause stress to some as they see that God would allow joy in our lives and turn around and allow for heartache.
This summer, I used this scripture in a message that I gave recently in Medora, ND, as part of A Christian Ministry in the National Parks. While Medora fought a devastating fire, the frontline workers banded together to fight the fire and protect everything and everyone in the town. This disastrous fire included Theodore Roosevelt National Park with its wildlife and its very own Burning Hills Amphitheater.
By the time I arrived there in June, you could see evidence of the charring all along the walkway. But, on the other hand, you could see the regrowth that was taking place. One night while I was attending the musical, before the first service of the season, we saw a fawn on the walkway enjoying the new green growth that was taking place. This vision gave me some hope and let God put a message to share in my heart.
In Medora, there are two seasons, Musical Season (this would be the summer months, about April through September). Everyone is either getting things ready to start the musical or getting ready to finish up. And then there is the non-musical season when things are a bit calmer, but the folks that work at the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation are busy behind the seasons planning, taking charge, and giving it all they have. The devastating fire hit April 1, 2021. This fire was just two months before I was scheduled to arrive.
The little town of Medora is a massive tourist destination just outside of the park. When our services took place, we would get people from every walk of life: residents, tourists, and seasonal workers. In our first service, I heard the town buzzing about the fire and how they had almost lost everything. This event had me contemplating what happens when God allows terrifying things to happen in our lives. How does he expect us to move along and act like it is alright? How can we, when we feel the devastation deep within us and know that at the drop of a spark, it could all be gone again?
Let’s turn to Ecclesiastes 3, shall we:
“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; and 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, ad a time for peace.- ESV
If you read that and heard a guitar riff, perhaps you’re a child of a particular era, or you like good music! I am referring to the 60s band, The Byrds. They made this scripture passage the main staple in popular music, but it’s so much more than that.
If we look carefully, we see that God had allowed us to have experiences for “everything under heaven.” This idea means that sometimes we have to take the bad with the good. Even though the bad can be hard to cope with, we may even ask God, WHY??? But this is all in God’s plan for humanity and the joy of experiencing all that he has created. Let’s take a gander at the title once again, ‘The Lord Loves Creatures Big and Small”. I chose this title because sometimes we look at the massive animals, like the mighty bison, and feel so small compared, but he still loves us the same. We look at a baby animal, but once and again, he loves us the same. Even when we compare ourselves to the people we are surrounded by, guess what, yep…He loves us the same! He gave us grief and joy. He gave us a chance to encounter his creation and take pleasure in the happier times, but he also gave us a world that we can grieve over and be frustrated with in general. He has given us a time to LOVE and a time not to love. It has taken me a lifetime even to start to discover this. As I write this article, I know that I will have to look back at this and remind myself exactly what I have written here. This writer sometimes needs to hear or read her messages repeatedly to let them sink in.
So dear brothers and sisters of Christ, big or small, you better believe He loves you all! Let us take time to immerse ourselves in our circumstances and know that this is just another season that only God himself could and would provide.Sara Millard Distance Learning MA PCL seminary student. Pastoral Care Intern at First Presbyterian Church in Pueblo, Colorado. 4-time World Champion Pioneer Cart Shooter, 2-time kidney transplant recipient, and just happy to be here!