Wisdom and the times of our lives
By Curtis Shelburne
According to the wise man writing in Ecclesiastes 3, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
I like the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases this in The Message: “There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth.”
Yes, and the sage continues in those famous words, “There is a time to be born and a time to die, . . . a time to kill and a time to heal, . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance . . .”
It rings true, doesn’t it? Our souls and our experience hear these words and respond, yes.
Life is a patchwork quilt sewn together with swatches of immensely varied “times and seasons.” In our lives we experience incredibly sweet moments, sometimes followed in an eye-blink or two by tastes terribly bitter. Even on the same day, how unusual is it to both shed a tear and liberate a laugh?
Pain and pleasure, darkness and light, tears and laughter. However long the cycles—moments or days or weeks or months or seasons—the human experience is that night-times of weeping and joy-splashed mornings, and everything in between, are the mosaic pieces that make up our lives.
The “wise man” had lived long enough to be wise. Some things just take time. You’ll never get a 100-year-old oak tree by wishing really hard for it for ten incredibly strenuous minutes. Even
for-their-age-mature pre-teen or teen will likely find it challenging to believe even a well-loved and trusted adult sharing the truth that dark times of sorrow and pain and frustration and fear really do not last forever. It is nonetheless true and wise counsel that we owe them and that one day they’ll also try to share with the next generation even as they face the same challenges when sharing it. The times and seasons and cycles continue, you see.
Wisdom says that it’s good to know that the times and seasons really do change.
Wisdom says that it’s good to take what’s immensely good about the good and incredibly difficult about the bad and learn from both.
Wisdom says that though experience is the best teacher for us all, we needlessly impoverish ourselves if we fail to listen to the experience of those who go before us and have much priceless to teach.
Wisdom says that genuine truth is truth for all seasons, and it does not change.
Wisdom says that the best way to live wisely into the future is to learn the lessons of the past.
Wisdom says that only the incredibly foolish ever think of themselves as being wise.
Wisdom refuses to be a slave bowing before the supposed wisdom of its own time.
Wisdom knows that the glitz of its age (industrial or technological or informational or . . .) makes it not one bit wiser than ages past.
Wisdom knows that genuine wisdom is rooted forever in the truth of the One whose existence holds this world and universe together, the only One who is constant, unchanging, and true in all times, all seasons.