Welcome to Songs of Salvation!
Join Christian authors as they share their "Songs of Salvation" to uplift and encourage believers and glorify God.
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And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.
Revelation 12:11 NLT
Do you remember a great song called Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds? I grew up hearing that song as a little kid and always loved it. Millions of people loved it, and the song shot to Number 1 on Billboard. You can listen to it here:
I didn’t learn until much later that the lyrics for this song lean heavily on Ecclesiastes. There is a timeless appeal to the words that made this song a rare biblical hit with mainstream audiences. Here is the original words from the NIV version of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
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
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw 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
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
As a young person I tapped my foot and mindlessly sang the lyrics, because you have to admit… it’s a catchy tune! But the words didn’t start sinking in until later in my life. As I get older, the passage has become more profound, especially when put in context of the original text, in which a wise teacher (traditionally assumed to be Solomon, one of the wisest men in the bible,) despairs over his inability to understand the meaning of life. He ponders why mankind works so hard, yet it will all be lost and forgotten. There is nothing new under the sun. He studies, amasses knowledge, but still finds no answer. “I learned that this, too, is chasing the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 1:18)
Then comes the famous Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, quoted above. What a passage! What a sentiment! It covers the scope of a normal human life, our seasons in the sun and those in mourning. It makes these things seem inevitable, for indeed, most of them are.
For me, there is comfort in this. I am simultaneously going through the most joyous period of my life, but one that has been fraught with a lot of pain, too. In January of this year I switched careers and became a full-time writer. These months without administrative headaches and two hours of a daily commute have been like magic. I feel renewed and restored. I now have the exact career I’ve always dreamed of, and it is better than expected. I feel like I am fulfilling my ultimate calling. It is my season in the sun.
At the same time, I am going through the pain of losing my parents, partly due to Alzheimer’s but also simply the inevitable march of time. I am their caretaker, and this job is more challenging than expected. I also am witnessing loved ones fall victim to drug addiction and conditions that will probably cause them to die far too soon. The frustration of not being able to “fix” them is difficult, but I am coming to terms with it. And who knows? Maybe they will figure a way out of the death spiral they are on. One can hope.
But there will be no happy ending for my parents. After a long and productive marriage, they are winding down, and it has been a brutally painful journey for both of them. It is hard to find meaning in their suffering. I’ve tried, but I give up. I don’t see it.
Back to Solomon and Ecclesiastes. The book takes a dark turn into pessimism and apparent hopelessness in Ecclesiastes 11:8
However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all.
But let them remember the days of darkness,
For there will be many.
Everything to come is meaningless.
If King Solomon couldn’t figure it out, I don’t think I can, either. I need to accept that there are seasons of life. Some will be joyous days in the sun, others will be dark and seemingly meaningless. I am learning to understand and accept this. It is normal to feel pain and confusion, and even a sense of hopelessness during some of these seasons. That isn’t a sign of poor faith, and I’ve decided to stop beating myself up for sometimes giving into despair. These are things we are told to accept and live with as much grace as possible. There is a time to be born and a time to die. A time to mourn and a time to dance. When the despair of life gets me down, I play the song by the Byrds, and it brings a smile of consolation to my face.