When I was a child, my pastor used to tell us that if things are going really badly, not to despair, because it won’t be that way forever, and if things are going really well, rejoice—but don’t get too comfortable, because it, too, won’t last forever. It’s true, isn’t it? No matter what is happening in our world and our lives, we are in constant motion, constant change. Though it may hurt and frighten us at times, change begets change. Change begets life.
King Solomon said it this way:
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;
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, and a time for peace. (Ecc. 3:1-8, ESV)
And to paraphrase, the Byrds said it this way:
To everything, turn, turn, turn;
There is a season, turn, turn, turn;
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
Not a month ago, magic blueberries flooded the sand heap behind my home. Today, there is naught but the dying, drying plants. They are falling asleep for Autumn. A family I love dearly is preparing for a move to another city. It’s not across the Atlantic. It’s not even across the country. It’s a few short hour’s drive. The change, though, is frightening, both for them and for me. It’s a type of mourning. Though not the death of a loved one, it is the closing of our time together as we’ve known it. It comes during a summer when so many of my friends and family have lost loved ones.
The change is hard, no matter what kind of change it is. The unknown lurks over us like a shadow we cannot elude, threatening to consume us in our grief. It is true of our own lives. It is true of our families, of our friends, of our nation, of our planet, and I daresay, all of the known depths of space.
But just like those blueberries, though our hearts are crushed under the weight of a black bear we could neither anticipate nor evade, there is hope for Spring. Where today we know sorrow, tomorrow we will know joy. Where today we know tears, tomorrow we will know laughter. Where today our hearts ache, tomorrow our hearts will overflow.
Joy cannot be rushed, and sorrow cannot be avoided. Indeed, sorrow is evidence of having loved, evidence of having known joy. Joy, similarly, is evidence of having grieved, having known sadness. To everything, there is a season, and each season builds upon the sacrifices and growth of the previous season to prepare for the coming season. It is change. It is life.
Today, if someone you love is grieving, I urge you not to rush them to a premature and insincere joy. Rather, shine with love like a star in their darkest night.
Today, if you are grieving, take courage. Know that the sun that has set upon your weary heart will rise again, even if the present night seems indefinite. Lift your hands in sweet surrender, look to the beautiful stars for hope, and thank the Creator for the turning of the sun, the turning of the moon, the turning of the seasons, and the turning of our lives.