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.
Imagine looking over an artist’s shoulder trying to make sense of what he is painting, then hearing him reassure, “I’m not done. Wait until I’m finished.”
Or imagine standing in an auto repair shop and seeing your car’s engine scattered across the floor and hearing the mechanic say, “I’m not finished yet. I’ll have your car ready at the end of the day.”
I often worry and fret about life and the state of the world and sense the Spirit of God say, “I’m not finished! Wait until I’m done!” In these times of discouragement with myself, and with the way things are going, I often turn to my old friend Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes. I love the way Solomon gathers up our confusion and discouragement to reassure that God isn’t finished yet. In today’s Scripture Solomon promises, “God has made everything beautiful in its time”. Notice, “in its time”. So the take away line is, “eat drink and find satisfaction…this is the gift of God”.
In this text and other passages in Ecclesiastes we see brush strokes of God’s artistry on a canvas so big that we are not yet able to take it in. God’s workmanship stretches across the cosmos and ages so that “no one can fathom what God has done from the beginning to the end.” But God isn’t finished yet!
In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky counsels patience and waiting for God 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 resentment, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they’ve shed.
As I read frightening news from around the world the words of Solomon reassure that God isn’t finished. C. S. Lewis says that we “mortals” often misunderstand our pain and losses blurting out that “No future bliss can make up for it.” We say this, Lewis observes, “not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.” (Lewis, The Great Divorce)
I will refrain from judging an artist or mechanic’s work until they are finished. So I will refrain from making judgments about God’s work in the world until He is done.
Solomon’s words remind me of a wonderful line from the recent movie “The Best Marigold Hotel”, staring Judie Dench and Maggie Smith. The movie shows how we all have ideas of how life should play out, but usually doesn’t. Yet the movie’s characters learn the saying, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” But Scripture assures us that in the end everything will be more than just “okay”. It will be heaven!
So patience, Tim! Patience with others, and with yourself! And patience with God! God isn’t finished yet. So until the end, “eat and drink, and find satisfaction…this is the gift of God.”
Grace and peace,
photo by Baker County Tourism