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The Unpredictability of Life

By Mary Bridges, Chaplain for Salina Presbyterian Manor

In July, the Rev. Elwyn Holmes of Salina’s First Presbyterian Church led our first worship service in over a year. He used the familiar words from Ecclesiastics 3:1-13 for his message. The reverend said that these words from centuries ago continue to remind us that life isn’t always great and it often brings things into our lives that we don’t like. He used “The Message” translation by Eugene Peterson. These words gave me renewed hope for our world.  

Jeffery Kranz, an author who lives in Bellingham, Wash., tells us that “Ecclesiastes explores the unpredictability of life: we have an idea of how the world should work, but it rarely goes that way. And no matter how wise we are, or how hard we work, or how strong our faith is, we don’t have any guarantees and we are encouraged to be loyal to God and enjoy the simple things in life — because we really don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I’ve had a good look at what God has given us to do — busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going. I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That’s it: Eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It’s God’s gift.

There is an opportune time for everything.

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