The reading form Ecclesiastes begins with “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for everything under the heavens,” and proceeds to list divergent phrases such as “a time to be born and a time to die.” Ask any mother and she will agree that there was a time for her child to be born and she did not really have any choice on that timing. We all know that we will die, but we do not have control over that timing and generally do not even know what the timing will be.
Many of the other divergent phrases refer to things that we can control such as, “A time to speak and a time to be silent.” Right now I imagine many in the US wish our politicians could find a time for silence. Due to the heat and drought in our area of this world, the time to uproot the fields came earlier than usual for many farmers as they bring in any harvest they can salvage from what they planted in the spring and then clear the fields for next spring’s planting.
“A time to kill” is more difficult to understand as is “ a time to hate” and “a time for war.” Shouldn’t all time be for healing, loving and peace? Obviously in our imperfect and human world there are times for killing, war, and hatred; we see and hear this on the news every day. However, I would have to disagree with the author of this book of the Bible, when he follows the list of divergent times with the phrase that “He (God) has made everything appropriate to its time.” The times for hatred, killing, and war are not predestined; God does not make these happen. They occur because of very human choices.
It is not always easy for us to be able to identify those times we can control and those that we cannot, but we can ask for assistance as in the words of the Serenity Prayer:
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