God has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
Sometimes I imagine I am looking over an artist’s shoulder trying to make sense of some lines on a canvas, when the artist says, “Be patient, it’s going to look beautiful, I’m not finished yet”.
Sometimes I imagine I am in a garage looking at my car’s engine spread in a zillion pieces across the floor. The mechanic assures me: “Don’t worry Mr. Smith, I’ll have your car working by the end of the day. I’m not finished yet”.
As I often worry and fret about life and the world, I sense the Spirit of God saying: “I’m not finished yet!” In such times of discouragement and confusion I often turn to my old friend, Solomon, in his book of Ecclesiastes. In that incredible book of the Bible Solomon takes up our confusion and despair and encourages: “God isn’t finished yet!” “God has made everything beautiful in its time”, Solomon assures. So “eat drink and find satisfaction…this is the gift of God”.
In this and other passages in Ecclesiastes we see the brush strokes of God’s artistry stretching across a canvas so grand that we are unable to take it all in. God’s workmanship stretches across the ages and the cosmos so that “no one can fathom what God has done from the beginning to the end”. Be patient, Solomon urges, God isn’t finished yet!
In The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, also counsels the same patience and hope in the midst of life’s slings and arrows:
I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage…that in the world’s grand finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they’ve shed.
As we read today’s discouraging and frightening news, or try to endure our own losses and disappointments, the Spirit of God reminds: God isn’t finished yet. Yet, as C. S. Lewis says, we “mortals” often misunderstand this and say “’No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory” (The Great Divorce).
I will not judge an artist or mechanic’s work until they are finished. So I will not make judgments on God’s work until He is done. When I doubt what God is doing, or charge Him with making a mistake, I remind myself: “God isn’t finished yet!” And when I get discouraged with me and how I am doing, I will also remind myself: “God isn’t finished yet!”
Billy Graham tells of riding in a car with his wife Ruth when they came to a sign reading: “End of construction. Thank you for your patience.” Billy says that Ruth thought the words of the sign to be a marvelous image of our walk with God. So on Ruth Bell Graham’s simple tombstone you will find that wonderful affirmation of faith: “End of construction. Thank you for your patience.”
So may we also be patient with others, patient with ourselves, and, yes, patient with God. God isn’t finished yet!
Grace and peace,
photo by Jean-Francois Phillips