Sermons & Sunday Schools

The Tyranny of Times

In this sermon, Pastor Dave Capoccia examines Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 and Solomon’s teaching about the different times or seasons of life. Pastor Dave explains that, rather than romantically musing about life’s different times, Solomon shows how people ultimately have no control over their times. Solomon then presents how to respond wisely to the frustratingly uncontrollable times of life:

1. Realize God’s Control (vv. 10-11)
2. Rejoice in God’s Good (vv. 12-13)
3. Revere God (vv. 14-15)

Full Transcript:

Many of you know that my wife and I spent the last three and a half years not here in New Jersey, but in Los Angeles because I was attending seminary. One of the realities we looked forward to when we came back to New Jersey was experiencing all four seasons again. In LA, there are only two seasons: green and brown. The latter is unbearably hot and dry which lasted from April to November which has temperatures above 90 or 100 every day. The former is quite pleasant, it’s warmer and there is a little rain now and then with temperatures in the 60s and 70s.

But in New Jersey you actually get the four seasons: the brilliant fall foliage, the soft snowfalls, the budding spring flowers, and the hot summer sun. As nice as it is to experience these changing seasons in full, I’ve come to realize something. No matter where you go, the different seasons of earth are a source of frustration. Even when we know it is coming, the changing of the seasons always seems to catch us off guard. “When did it get so cold? It’s dark at 4:30 now?” Even though we experience these changes every year, it’s like we’re never ready for them.

Sometimes we experience unseasonal weather within a season which is shocking. Just last week it was pretty warm in the middle of fall. I go outside with my sweater and scarf like normal and I was sweating! Even our regular seasons don’t turn out so regular. Then there’s the frustration of having to endure the seasons and parts of seasons that we don’t like. “Oh when is summer going to be over because it is so hot and I don’t have any energy?!” Or, “I can’t stand any more to look at this dirty snow, when is spring going to arrive?”

Some seasons we don’t want to experience or for very long. And there is the frustration of seeing the seasons we do like pass away quickly. “What do you mean, summer is over already? I hardly got to do anything fun!” Or, “Those fragrant spring blossoms or the beautiful fall colors should last a little longer!” As much as we want a season to remain, time marches on. Truly though we humans love variety to a certain degree, we also have a longing to see what is good remain and last. This longing is frustrated by this seasonal nature of our world. We don’t have the power to make what we want to last stay permanently.

Now if we experience both joy and frustration with the seasons of earth, what about the seasons of life? We each must endure different seasons of life and many of the same frustrations we might feel about the earth’s seasons, we will also feel regarding our lives’ changing times. Probably many of you are frustrated by the season of COVID or the political season. Or maybe you have a personal life circumstance that you really want to see change. Or maybe you are really sad about a life circumstance that has changed that you didn’t want to change.

How are we to respond to the changing seasons and times of life? Is there a way that we can control these changes and make the good times last? Or if not, how could we still approach life’s seasons in a way that is wise, holy, and even happy? Let’s hear what God has to say on this topic as we consider our next passage in Ecclesiastes. Take your Bibles and turn to Ecclesiastes 3:1-15. In Ecclesiastes 1 and 2, our author, King Solomon, has shown us why the reality of death makes everything frustrating and vaporous in this world. Translated in our Bibles: vapors of vapors and vanities of vanities. Solomon pointed this out to us and counseled us on the proper perspectives we should have.

In chapter 3, Solomon moves from the subject of death to the subject of times. Let’s hear the teaching of Solomon, which is the teaching of God in Ecclesiastes 3:1-15:

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear 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 throw stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; 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. What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves. He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him. That which is has been already and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by.

The poem that you see in the first half of our passage is perhaps the most widely known text in the Bible. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is quoted in movies, read at funerals, and set to music. But as arresting and enchanting as this poem is, it cannot truly be understood without its context. That is, Solomon’s explanation of the poem which is provided in verses 9-15. Many assume that Solomon’s poem is a wistful reflection or even celebration of the different seasons of life. But if we actually pay attention to the words of the poem and of their context, we see that the subject is actually quite different.

Here, Solomon presents for our instruction one of the most frustrating aspects of living life in this fallen world, and that is man is not in control of the times he faces. Man is subject to the tyranny of his times. Friends, this is true for you this morning. Just as you cannot control the four seasons of earth, you cannot control the times of your life.

You can try to plan out the story of your life and all its chapters. You can try to be like the arrogant man of James 4:13-17, which you just heard about and say here is when you will do this, accomplish this, and experience this. You can try to make things happen and force the times you desire. But sooner or later, you’ll find out that you do not have that power and ultimately you aren’t in control. You will eventually have to submit to and endure whatever times are given to you, whether those times are good or bad.

Life is like a river, and you have been placed in the small boat going down to the ocean. Try as you might to steer or paddle, you cannot try to change the course of the river, nor can you remain forever in a smooth and easy part of the river. Nor even can you always foresee and prepare for the river’s twists and turns. You are not in control of your times, but are rather subject to them.

This frustrating fact can lead you to despair, bitterness towards God and other people. You can yield to prideful anger and not having life go the way you want it to. Or you can turn to a better, righteous, and wise way. This is what Solomon is going to show us so let’s take a closer look at this text. First we will examine the poem where Solomon shows us the frustratingly uncontrollable times of life and second we we’ll examine Solomon’s counsel as to how we should live in response.

We’ll start with the poem in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. We won’t deny that there is a certain transfixing beauty to this poem. There is something very pleasant about the symmetry of the lines, the regular rhythm, the sweeping capture of the various aspects of human existence. We can even discern structure in this poem.

Each verse presents a pair of merisms. A merism is a figure of speech that expresses totality, completeness, comprehensiveness by referring to the two extremes of a topic. For example, if you know a subject from A to Z, that means you not only know the A and the Z but you know everything in between. If you searched Heaven and earth to find something, it means you not only searched Heaven and not only searched earth but everything in between. It is a complete search.

We have many contrasting descriptions but because they are merisms, Solomon is not merely saying there is a time for one action and its opposite, but there is time for everything in between the two opposites. Solomon thus is really capturing the totality of life even in the structural components of this poem. Moreover, there is a total of fourteen merisms in this section, or 7 pairs. That’s a number that is used to emphasize completeness in the Bible, especially when it comes to the works of God.

These pairs of merisms are clearly related to each other and have been purposely put together. If you look at the example in verse 2, the first merism describes the two ends of human existence whereas the second merism describes a plant’s existence. In terms of content, Solomon is also keen in this poem to cover all of life. Within the poetic lines we have life, death work, relationships, speech, emotions, construction, destruction, conflict, pleasure, and pain. That’s a sweeping view of life and there’s nothing that you couldn’t fit into one of these categories.

This poem does represent a pleasant, purposeful, and complete picture of life. Yet, there are aspects of discord and frustration in this poem as well, in both content and structure. Content-wise, not every time that is presented in this poem is intrinsically good. Who wants to weep, to kill, to give up loss, to hate, to go to war? Even though the form of the poem is beautiful, some of the content is quite sorrowful.

The structure also is a bit enigmatic and even at times appears totally at random. Why do the merisms flow in the order that they do? There doesn’t seem to be a clear sense to it. Why do the merisms of verse 5 follow the merisms of verse 4 when they don’t seem to be related. Why does the poem end with hate, love, war, or peace? Furthermore, even though we have seven pairs of merisms and some of the pairs are clearly related, others are not at all. Even between the pairs in a verse like verse 5, what does throwing and gathering stones have to do with embracing or not embracing? Or in verse 7, what does tearing and mending have to do with silent and speaking?

Commentators have come up with some ingenious explanations to connect these merisms. But these explanations remain tenuous, and in my view, are pretty unsatisfying. Is there really a true purpose of the pairings in this poem or is it random? Take the merisms themselves, they’re not as complete as we would think. Not all of them use terms that are true opposites of one another. You can see this in the first merism of this poem.

The New American Standard 95 edition does a good ob of translating the Hebrew because it is as we just read, a time to give birth and a time to die. This is different from what appears in other translations, which say it is a time to be born. It’s not passive in Hebrew but active. A time to give birth is not the exact opposite of dying. If you look at verse 3, we see that merisms are not perfect. Healing is not the exact opposite of killing. We would expect giving birth or restoring to life as being opposites.

Considering again this poem as a whole from the outset, even while we recognize there is pleasantness, purpose, and totality represented in this poem. On the other hand, we recognize there is unpleasantness, apparent randomness, and incompleteness presented in the poem. So isn’t this poem just like life? Life has its beauty but it also has its ugliness. Life has its points where purpose can clearly be discerned and where it cannot.

Just as we understand what it means to be human, to live this existence, there is also a sense where we cannot understand it at all or express it. The poem and the form itself corresponds to the content and teaching. Solomon is showing us what life is like under the sun. This is life in a fallen world, even for Christians. This is the vapor of vapors existence that Solomon articulated in Ecclesiastes 2: vanity of vanities all is vanity.

Having observed the poem broadly, let’s now briefly walk through the poem. Look at the introductory line in verse 1:

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.

Note the phrase “appointed time,” this is a good translation of the Hebrew which is exactly what the term means. You could capture it with the word season as well. Solomon says at the outset that everything in life has a season. Every event, whether good or bad, has an appointed time. Note that what Solomon says in verse 1 and following is descriptive and not prescriptive. In this poem, Solomon is observing for us what happens in life, not endorsing, commending, or commanding you to pursue a certain action.

Let’s look at these different encounters of life that he mentions in verse 2:

A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.

Solomon appropriately begins these poetic lines with a word about beginnings and endings. We have the celebratory start of potential and the often sad end of potential, first with people then with plants. We have birth and death, planting and tearing out. Life contains these times as well as all modes of existence in between. Verse 3 says:

A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build up.

These lines have a primary application to war and recovery. Other kinds of necessary destruction and construction are also in view. Solomon says our lives are going to contain times of each of these things: things being destroyed and being built up. Let’s look at verse 4:

A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.

Here Solomon is considering emotions between the private and public. In life there will be both tragic and wonderful happenings. We are moved to sorrow and gladness at different turns. Verse 5 says:

A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.

The meaning of the phrases involving stones is very debated and not clear. The best view is that throwing stones is filling an enemy’s field with rocks to make it unproductive. This was part of an ancient warfare. Gathering stones would then refer to the removing of rocks from the field to restore it to productive use. There are times in life where you’re forced to make something unproductive or not useful. There are other times where you are forced to make something useful again. The second merism in this verse is more straightforward about relationships. Sometimes you will be able to embrace others with full trust, acceptance, and affection. Other times you will have to remain aloof and refuse any association. Verse 6 says:

A time to search and a time to give up as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away.

Here Solomon speaks about how we regard what is valuable, especially possessions. There are times in life where you’re forced to search for something or hang on because it is valuable. Other times you have to give up and even throw away something even if it is a treasure. Verse 7 says:

A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; a time to be silent and a time to speak.

The first merism here refers to the practice of mourning as ancient near eastern people would often tear their garments in an expression of grief or outrage. Solomon is saying that there is time for expressing grief and trouble, but there is also a time to move on. Solomon probably has in mind more than a literal application to mourning, that there are times of tearing and joining in life. Maybe it has to do with relationships or how you live or think.

The second merism involves speech. Life will have times to speak and also times to say nothing and everything in between. All sorts of different seasons when it comes to speech. The book of Proverbs has much to say about the appropriate times to speak: when to speak, when to say nothing, and what to speak when you do speak. Certain times will compel you in certain ways. Finally verse 8 says:

A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.

Intriguingly, the poem ends with two merisms involving conflict. Starting first with private emotions that either stir up or ameliorate conflict and then proceeding to what those emotions ultimately and publicly lead to: war and peace. Life will be full of times involving love and hate. Sometimes in life we’ll be forced to go to war, and other times we will be forced to peace. This is the end of the poetic section.

I mentioned to you already that Solomon is really only observing life in this poem. He is not telling us which extremes he is telling us to pursue in our lives. He really is only telling us to be mindful of engaging in the appropriate actions for each time. He is not counseling us, just observing. Also as the following verses are about to confirm for us, Solomon is emphasizing to us through these observations how all the different times and circumstances we find ourselves in, even times where we exercise agency and making choices, these times nevertheless are given to us. They are not brought about by our own will or work. Even our necessary responses to those times are determined for us.

This is actually emphasized in many of the merisms of this poem. Look at verse 2, can a pregnant mother refuse to give birth when her time has come? Or can a person keep on living when it is his time to die? Consider again what verse 4 says. Does a person really choose to weep, laugh, mourn or dance? A person is moved by the tragic or wonderful times he faces in life to feel and express those emotions.

Think about this from the poetic lines we have read. What is the use of resisting any time that is given to you? The answer is there is no use. When you try to resist, you only end up hurting yourself and your compelling circumstance remains. Consider the second merism from verse 2. When it comes to agriculture, there is a set time for planting and a set time for uprooting or harvesting what you’ve planted. If you try to resist that or avoid that, you’re going to suffer because unless you plant at the appropriate time, your crops are not going to well. And unless you tear out at the appropriate time, your yield will suffer.

You can’t fight this. Consider verse 8: if you remain at peace when it is time for war, you’re going to suffer for it and probably will still go to war in the end. Davie had to fight his beloved son Absalom even though he didn’t want to. Consider more recent history: the allied powers were forced to fight against Nazi Germany in WWII even though they weren’t ready for another war. All efforts to appease them had utterly failed.

On the flip side, if you remain at war when it is time for peace, again your stubbornness will result in your hurt and you will probably be forced to peace. King Saul futilely pursued David and would not give up the war against his own servant. Eventually, the Lord took away his life and he was forced to be at peace with David. In more recent story, the Japanese in WWII refused to seek peace with America until they were forced and their major cities were devastated with atomic and incendiary bombs.

The fact is when a season of life is given to you, resistance is futile. Your hand will be forced because you are not in control. Notice this also, Solomon presents to us many different times of life but how do you know which time is coming upon you next. The answer is you don’t. Sure you might know to expect various seasons in your life at different points because you know things will change. You may broadly understand that if you continue to live, you will go through childhood, adulthood, and old age. But you don’t even know those things for certain. You don’t know the specifics of it and you will find that your times can change very unexpectedly.

Sometimes this is a happy occurrence and sometimes you’re really stressed and things get a lot better. One time in Seminary, I was getting increasingly concerned about a certain essay’s deadline. I was working on it furiously and all of a sudden my mourning turned into dancing. I saw a little email in my inbox from my professor that said there was an extension on the paper and we didn’t have to turn it in right away. I didn’t even ask for that! What a happy change of circumstances. That’s going to happen in life!

So also the opposite will happen in life. You have a sudden shift in the opposite direction and sometimes it’s in an overwhelming way. You may know the solid Christian blogger, Tim Challies. On November 4th, Challies reveled that his 20 year old son Nick had died suddenly the day before. Challies said that Nick was playing a game with Nick’s fiacée when he suddenly collapsed and never regained consciousness. Challies wrote that the family had been looking forward so much Nick’s return from college over Thanksgiving, particularly so because he would be bringing his fiancée. But the family’s laughing turned to weeping and instead of family soon growing from five people to six people, it shrunk from five to four. Instead of their son returning to the family home, he was taken to a funeral home. How quickly the season of joy can change. What can we do to foresee it or to stop the appointed time?

So brothers and sisters, don’t get he wrong idea about this poem from Solomon. This is not some apps meditation on the circle of life, this is a presentation of the tyranny of times over mankind. We are not in control of the times we face and we cannot choose which times we want to experience, when they will come, or how long they will last. We do not even for certain which time will be coming next. Is this not a frustrating aspect fo life? Is it not grievous to be so limited and powerless? We can understand why Solomon says next in verse 9:

What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils?

Unless you appreciate what I’ve just shared with you, this question will seem like it’s coming out of nowhere. But it is not. Solomon has been exposing man’s fundamental lack of control over the times and seasons of life. So we ask the same questions he asks in Ecclesiastes 1:3. There he asked what is the point of striving if no amount of hard work can overcome death and its effects? Now he is asking a similar question, what is the point of toiling if we cannot ultimately change our times and protect ourselves from sudden changes in our times in the future. The answer here is the same here as it was back in chapter one, there is no point. There is no lasting profit or gain in our striving because we cannot change our appointed times.

But there’s more. Solomon’s words again aren’t meant to put you into despair but to get you to ask: if such is the case, then how should I live? Solomon is going to answer you, maybe not with the one you want but with the best one. In Ecclesiastes 3:10-15, Solomon urges upon us three wise responses as you consider the uncontrollable times of life. The first is in verses 10-11: recognize God’s control. Let’s read those verses again:

I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves. He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

Friends, it’s true that you cannot control the times of life but someone already is in control and that person is God. Verse 10 says that God has actually given you the work of life, not so you can find ultimate gain in that work or use it to achieve mastery of your times. But it does function as your lot, your necessary occupation as you sojourn this world. Furthermore, verse 11 says that God has made everything appropriate in its time. The Hebrew word for appropriate can also be translated as beautiful.

Solomon is saying here that even though our times are often difficult, changing, and hard to understand, they are not randomly or cruelly assigned to us. Rather, God has actually made each of them fitting and even beautiful in its time. Don’t misunderstand, not every time is beautiful in and of itself. Some times are not beautiful. Death is not beautiful in and of itself. But in the wide scheme of God’s plans and purposes for the world, what is happening to us will one day be shown to be perfectly appropriate. You could even say it is beautiful.

This is exactly what we long for, to know and understand. How is what we are facing beautiful? What is the purpose in it? How is it appropriate in the grand scheme of time? Solomon admits this himself when he says regarding what God has done, “He has also set eternity in their heart.” This is a famous line from Ecclesiastes. Solomon is saying that God has placed a sense of eternity, timelessness in man such that man not only longs for permanence but also to understand how everything in time fits together. We want to know from beginning to end. This sense is no doubt connected to man’s being made for God and being made in the image of God just as it is expressed in Genesis 1.

However, because we have sin in the fall even though we have this sense in ourselves, God has made man time-bound. He is also unable presently to see or comprehend what God has been doing from beginning to end. Even though we desperately desire to see and understand this, He says we ultimately cannot. So, Solomon provides us with an imperfect comfort in our changing times. On the one hand he says we can take comfort in the fact that our lives are purposefully and perfectly arranged by God. The sense of eternity in your heart can rest because God is taking care of it in the grand scheme.

But in another sense, you will remain frustrated by the fact that you will not and cannot see what the perfect arrangement that God has done is. In another sense, the sense of eternity in your heart will remain agitated and unsatisfied. As with Solomon’s previous counsel to us in Ecclesiastes 2, Solomon realizes he cannot totally erase the frustrations of life for us, even for we who love God and Christ. Solomon is showing us the best way to deal with life’s frustrations.

This is the first wise response to the uncontrollable nature of life’s times, to recognize God’s control. The second wise response is in verse 12-13, to rejoice in God’s good. Look at Ecclesiastes 3:12-13:

I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God.

This is pretty similar counsel to what Solomon said at the end of Ecclesiastes 2. Even though life is frustrating and times of great sorrow and hardship can hit us at any time, Solomon nonetheless urges to enjoy life. Rejoice, he says and enjoy your food, your drink, your work, and the fruits of your work. Because God wants you to and because He has given you these gifts to enjoy even as you go through this difficult sojourn. Now don’t seek any of the things of the world as your ultimate good or as the way you’re going to leverage control over times. Solomon has already showed us that’s not going to work. But whenever God gives you good in your life and in whatever form, don’t miss it. Make sure you enjoy it because it is a gift from God to you.

By the way did you notice what new activity Solomon mentions in verse 12 as part of our enduring life? He didn’t mention this in Ecclesiastes 2, but we see here that it is doing good. Nothing better than to rejoice and do good in one’s lifetime. Some commentators say that this phrase refers to pursuing enjoyable activities. But I don’t think that’s the case because we see the same phrase in Ecclesiastes 7:20. There, the phrase doing good refers to living righteously and not living in sin. It seems that Solomon is using the same meaning here. He is telling us that we want to be able to enjoy life and face the frustrating circumstances we can’t control, then make sure we do good and serve God above others.

Doesn’t the psalmist say the same thing? “How good is the Lord’s law and how good are all His commandments? I love doing what God calls me to do!” And we know other Scriptures say similar things. “His commands are not burdensome.” Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you because my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Find rest in it.” If you want to enjoy life, do good and follow God.

Rejoicing in God’s good is the second wise response to the uncontrollable nature of life. Third and final wise response appears in Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 which is to revere God. Verses 14-15 say:

I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him. That which is has been already and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by.

These verse have been highlighting the contrast of our inability to change any of our times and God’s full ability to arrange our times exactly as He wishes. Solomon says we should thus be moved to holy fear and regard of God. The end of verse 14 says that this was God’s purpose all along. Why hasn’t God made circumstances only easy for you? Why doesn’t He explain Himself from beginning to end? Why hasn’t He give you the power to arrange your life exactly as you want? Because He knows there is something more important for you to experience and realize, that is to revere and fear Him as He deserves.

God is God! This is a fact that we often forget or under appreciate. He is the Lord of the universe and time! We cannot undo the arrangement of the times that God has ordained or decreed. Behold His ability and your inability! You can only do what God assigns for you to do, which really is what man has already done: what appears in the future, what appears now, and what has already appeared in the past.

God does what we really want to do but can’t do. For Him, it’s easy! He does it. Notice the final phrase, “For God seeks what has passed by.” Now this is one of the most debated phrases in Ecclesiastes as it is very puzzling. The Hebrew literally is God seeks that which is being pursued. What is being pursued? Past events, persecuted people? The answer that makes the most sense is that God seeks what man pursues in vain. Man seeks truly earth-shattering achievements and to change the world. Man seeks eternity encompassing knowledge and to know everything from beginning to end. But God says that this is not for mankind to pursue. He will take care of the great things because He is great! God asks us to trust Him and enjoy the good He gives in the lot of life.

Brothers and sisters, so much of the Bible is God revealing Himself to us that we would properly fear Him. He deserves our reverence and great regard! He is worthy of our awe and a little bit of knee-knocking terror. He deserves our obedience and worship because He is Lord like no lord we have encountered before. Do we really know who God is? Who Elohim is? Who Jesus Christ really is? He is God! He is the Lord. He is the Lord of time and the Shaker of Heaven and Earth who makes things happen.

We are just dusty creation and we are dependent on God in every way. We should fear Him and revere and regard Him. Will we not take Him and His glory seriously? It’s only who have a healthy fear of God and all that He is for His profound greatness who are able to appreciate and be astounded by the love of God. How can someone so great, mighty, and significant care for someone as insignificant as me.

God designed our inability to control our times to cause us to fear and revere Him. That is a wise response. So now you have learned the Word of the Lord. This is the wisdom of God to you and the wise way to respond to the uncontrollable nature of life. So will you heed it? How will you respond to this teaching? If you stubbornly continue to exalt yourself and your own plans, Solomon has news for you: you’re going to be frustrated and bruised again and again by life. Your plans are going to be upended again and again. This way of God requires you to humble yourself before the Lord. Recognize His control and say that He is the Lord. Then you can receive the good He gives to you in the middle of your difficulties. Show Him that awe, respect, and fear that He deserves. Embrace the Son of God who is the Lord.

The New Testament talks about how our arrogance and plans and living our own way has resulted in a measure of sin in our lives that is absolutely reprehensible to God. It is an infinite offense to say that we are the lord and we won’t depend on God. God says that He will judge those who say they are the lords of their lives and won’t submit to His Lordship. The Son of Man became a man and lived in this world in great frustration but lived a perfect life and died a sacrificial death so He could save sinners like you and me who are so arrogant before Him. Repent of your sins as you pursue mastery of your times in vain so that you can trust yourself to Jesus Christ to pay for your sins, bring you to God all on His own without your good works, and to bring you into eternity away from the futilities of this world.

If you have do all this, you will have encountered what is the true good of this universe. Everything in this earth is empty and passing away but God is eternal and the one great good that God offers to us so we can have God in the midst of our changing times. God won’t change, He will be with us but we have to trust His Lordship. Have you done that? Have you submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ? Is He your Savior and Lord? Without Christ, you won’t see God. You won’t have an inheritance in the new heavens and new earth, which is going to be so much better than what we have right now. As you sojourn in all this changing seasons, He will be with you every step of the way and giving His good in the big and little ways. Don’t you want that?

We need to listen to the wisdom of Solomon today and be blessed. This is the way of wisdom and happiness, even when we deal with frustration. I don’t know what season is coming up next in your lives. Corporately and personally, are we going into a winter of sorts? If that is what God has ordained, we can’t change that. But we can change our perspective and trust in the Lord of times and seasons so that we don’t despair but are joyful in the midst of it. Let’s do that together as a church as the followers of Christ.

Pray with me, Heavenly Father You are the Lord of time. God, sometimes we want to be lord and want things to work out the way we want. We make our plans but then you upend them reminding us that You are God and we are not. We thank You for this promise that You are working everything appropriately and it is ultimately for Your glory and our good. Sometimes it just hurts so much in the meantime. The seasons can be painful and they seem to last for a long time when we don’t want them and last for a short time when we do want them.

I pray that whoever listens to this message today would trust in You, whatever seasons they are facing and whatever comes. I pray that their hope is in Jesus Christ, Your Son so they have a steadfast hope in the midst of tumultuous seasons. I think of the words that you expressed when you met with your disciples on the Mountain of Galilee, even there you were expressing Your Lordship over time and over our seasons. How wonderful to have a sympathetic High Priest who is the Lord of our times so we have Someone who takes care of us and brings us to Himself. We will ultimately have seasons that go from good to good to good to good. There are pleasures at Your right hand that are ours. I pray that if there is anyone who doesn’t know You, they would turn from their sins and turn to Christ. I pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.