To Everything There Is A Season | Ecclesiastes 3:4

by William J. Stewart

Among the innate features of humanity is the ability to experience and display emotion. As we continue to look at Solomon’s instruction from Ecclesiastes 3, we consider some of these God-given traits.

A Time To Weep, And A Time To Laugh
No one looks forward to times of grief and affliction, but they inevitably will come. Job lamented in his sorrows with these words, “…affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble spring from the ground; yet man is born of trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7), and again, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1).

There will be times of weeping over the loss of loved ones (Genesis 23:3; 2 Samuel 19:1; Matthew 2:18). The sorrow of Mary and Martha at the loss of Lazarus, their brother, caused the Lord to weep (John 11:33-35). One might be distressed, as Hannah, for she had been unable to bear children, and thus wept (1 Samuel 1:8). Or it may be sin which brings occasion for weeping, either that of others (2 Kings 8:11-12) or perhaps our own transgressions (Ezra 10:1-2).

However, there is great comfort for the servant of the Lord who weeps. David expressed his great distress because of his enemies, with words such as “groaning,” “tears,” “griefs,” and “weeping.” But hear his confidence, “Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity; for the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping. The LORD has heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer” (Psalm 6:8-9). God’s ear is open to the cries of His people, and He will answer.

The Psalmist assures his readers that weeping will give place to joy, “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). And again, “He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:6).

Further comfort is present for the Christian, as the apostle Paul commanded the saints in Rome, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Again, to the Corinthians, using the physical body as an illustration of the church, “…if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26).

A Time To Mourn, And A Time To Dance
The thought behind these words is like the former. There will be times when mourning is appropriate, but in the cycle of life, these will give way to times of joy.

When asked why His disciples did not fast, Jesus candidly replied, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast!” (Matthew 9:15). Mourning for the sake of mourning is of no value. It would have been out of place for the Lord’s disciples to mourn while He was with them.

Your will recall in Luke 15, we find the parable of the lost (sheep, coin, son). In each case there was a time to mourn and a time to dance. The man, having lost a single sheep of his flock lamented, and sought to find it (v 4-5). Once found, he calls his friends together, that they might rejoice with one another (v 5-6). The woman who had lost a precious coin searched diligently, saddened by the loss (v 8); but once it was found, she called for her friends and neighbours to rejoice with her (v 9). The man who lost his son to prodigal living mourned for his son who was both “dead” and “lost” (v 24). However, when he returned, it was time to “eat and be merry” (v 24), and for “music and dancing” (v 25).

Jesus perhaps had these words of Solomon in mind when he addressed a multitude with these words: “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh … Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep” (Luke 6:21, 25). Matthew’s parallel records the better known phrase, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

The present mourning Jesus desires in us is sorrow for sin. If we will mourn for sin now, and thus seek the remedy which He supplies, then we will experience the comfort which comes with the forgiveness of sins. Then, we will be able to experience the joy of being a child of God, times of laughter and gladness. However, if we choose to laugh now, that is, to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, a time will come when we will both mourn and weep – in judgment.

Let us weep and mourn for sin now, that times of comfort and joy may come. Likewise let us be aware that when circumstances of life bring about weeping and mourning, the circle of our lifetime will also bring times of laughter and dancing.

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