Why I Like This Weather

There are some verses where you wonder if God put them in the Bible just because they’d look so darn perfect on leather journals and decorative wall calendars.

One of these is Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

Flower

This is one of the only verses from Ecclesiastes to get any merchandise-time, which is sad because I love Ecclesiastes. And also because I think the way it’s used gives people the wrong idea.

I get the feeling that ol' Inigo is going to be a regular visitor to this blog.

I get the feeling that ol’ Inigo is going to be a regular visitor to this blog.

Type Ecclesiastes 3:11 into Google Images and you will find this verse overlaid on images of flowers, butterflies, and sunsets. I don’t have a problem with that, since pictures from nature are a great way to illustrate that verse.

Except that the flowers are always blooming, the butterflies are never caterpillars, and the sunsets are cloudless and streaked with glorious color. And I’m not sure the point of Ecclesiastes 3:11 is, “God only makes beautiful things beautiful.”

If you read chapter three before verse eleven, the also-famous list of “A Time for Everything,” you’ll see that there are some activities that we wouldn’t consider cheery and lovely. “A time to be born,” but also “a time to die.” “A time to seek,” but also “a time to lose.” “A time to embrace,” but also “a time to refrain.”

Life is bittersweet. The author of Ecclesiastes knew this, and resisted the temptation to make even life with God into a serene and faultless picture enhanced with multiple Instagram filters. So maybe Ecclesiastes 3:11 memes should look more like this:

He has made everything beautiful in its time.

weather

Sure, I still complain about the weather now and then. But Minnesota winter is supposed to be cold, so I will do what I can to enjoy the coldness of it.

(Note: if it is April and still below freezing, all bets are off. That is not winter’s “time” to be beautiful and appreciated.)

Or how about this:

He has made everything beautiful in its time.

alarm

Even when you don’t want to go to work or school or whatever task is in front of you right now. Even when just getting out of bed seems like a struggle.

Next, I was going to put up the video of Taylor Swift singing “22,” but decided not to stoop that low. So imagine a picture here that says: “Being 22,” along with “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

When I have to write letters to people I’d like to have right next to me, when I’m faced with a stack of tax paperwork or dirty dishes, when I realize that I should probably get some long-term goals, I write over my life in bold letters, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

I don’t need to go back to childhood, carefree and without responsibilities. I don’t need to go forward to later adulthood where hopefully I’m wiser and more settled. Because, right now, I am here. I am 22. And that can be a beautiful time.

The promise of Ecclesiastes 3:17 is not that winter gives way to spring; it’s that winter has its own tiny beauties that spring could never have.

(Important side note: Please notice what I didn’t do here. I didn’t screenshot a picture of some tragedy and then say that God makes everything beautiful in its time. I do believe that God can work in spite of evil, but I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea and think I’m saying that evil is less evil because God can use it to bring about good. I will probably continue this side note in its own post next Monday.)

4 comments

  1. I must say, I was expecting a tragedy overlaid with the verse. I was thinking of Cowper’s Aspirations of a Soul After God, “I find even sorrow made sweet;//Because ’tis assigned me by thee.”

    The key in my mind is obviously, “in its time”. I would say then that it’s okay not to recognise the beauty now because the process is not complete.

    I also think the tragedy thing has an element of truth to it; the first place I would want to look is the cross: offensively evil but epically beautiful. I hear your concern though – Christians (especially the YRARers in 1st world environs) are quick to shrug off the evilness of evil with platitudes about God’s sovereignty.

    1. James, I think it can be appropriate to say that God can make tragedy beautiful. (And good point about the cross being the best example.) But I also agree with you on the timing, and that unless it’s a tragedy where I was personally affected it seems arrogant for me to try to speak to it.

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