God Shepherds Us Through the Seasons
by Pastor Gene
Ecclesiastes chapter 3 may be one of the most well-known chapters of the Bible, familiar to believers and non-believers alike. It talks about the times and season of life.
“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 build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast 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 cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”
Seasons. Just seasons.
Seasons that turn and fold into another season, much like the seasons that bring the snow and flowers and heat and magnificent foliage to New England. But those seasons (winter, spring, summer and fall) are much more predictable than the seasons that Solomon is talking about! The seasons of life follow no regular pattern. They’re in God’s sovereign keeping. One day we’re in a season of peace and, in an eye’s blink, we’re in a season of war.
For me it may be a time of peace, while for you it’s a time of conflict. But just a few days from now the seasons might change and our roles reverse.
Why? Because, “for everything there is a season” – a “time” in each of our lives in our journey of following Jesus for “every matter under heaven.”
Solomon says there are seasons for birth and seasons for dying, “a time to be born, and a time to die.” There are times for rejoicing in new arrivals – for babies to be born, for precious lives to be added to our own lives, gifts from God that are a part of our own lives. We cherish those times. We treasure them. We never want those days to end, but they do.
Then there are the dying seasons – not just ‘death,’ but ‘dying.’ They’re not usually just a day; they’re seasons. And they are difficult seasons. Seasons of withering away. Seasons of watching helplessly. Seasons of remembering, as we sit beside the bed and stare into eyes that have grown strangely distant. These are seasons of dying – and like all seasons, they pass.
But there are two things we shouldn’t miss about this.
First, God – our good, good God – uses these seasons to change us. It is impossible to go through any season of life and not be changed by them. We don’t choose them, God chooses them for us! We wake up one day and we see that the seasons have changed. And we cling to the promise that they will change again – that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5, KJV).
And so it is. Seasons of departures are followed by seasons of arrivals. Times for saying ‘good-bye’ give way to times for saying ‘hello.’ But each season that God brings us through changes us. We’re not the same person after a season of arrival that we were before it. And we’re not the same person after a season of dying that we were before it.
That’s because the seasons of life are tools in the hand of God to carve us progressively into Christ’s likeness.
At each new juncture we’re changed. And we now see through older, clearer eyes – eyes that God has prepared through the many seasons of life to see more clearly the things that truly matter in life.
The second thing we shouldn’t miss about this is similarly vital: God is the One who is leading us through the seasons!
This can be difficult to understand, especially when we encounter the difficult seasons, but it’s true nonetheless. That’s because God has a purpose for every season He leads us through.
Would you consider being tempted by the devil a ‘good’ thing? But what does Scripture say? “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1). It was the Holy Spirit who led Jesus into this season of testing and He did so for a very important reason. And He also leads us through difficult seasons, but always for important reasons.
We must never forget that the LORD is the One who is shepherding us through these seasons of life (Psalm 23:1), and that makes each of these seasons significant. Through them, God is fashioning us into the image of His beloved Son, Jesus.
“The LORD is my Shepherd,” David famously wrote. Well, He’s mine too, and yours! And, “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” because He is with me (Psalm 23:4).
To consider …
- Can you think of difficult seasons you’ve come through when God’s hand was clearly seen?
- It’s been said that the most difficult times we go through in life are the greatest times of learning.
Have you found this to be true in your life? Think of examples.
- Difficult seasons – like seasons of dying – can be devastating.
At such times we can be tempted to ‘throw in the towel’ and abandon our faith.
But God’s Word promises to give us what we need to persevere. Paul wrote: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
How has God come through for you in difficult seasons?
Do you remember to thank Him and praise Him in seasons of peace?
In seasons of conflict?
- How does it make you feel to consider that it is the LORD Himself who is shepherding you through every season of life?
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My sister’s grandson was born the day after my mom passed away. It was such a beautiful thing for God to have arranged to shepherd my sister through her grief.
Also, my aunt’s husband, (father of 9), passed away this week. I remember him as a grumpy, grouchy man. I was scared of him, frankly, growing up. Then, a few years ago, he was saved. Now, all the messages that people are leaving on our family group report what a loving and wise granfather and great grandfather he turned into and how he was always praising his Savior in his last days. This season which could have been doubly hard, reminding me of my own mom’s death, has turned into such a season of joy! I cry with every report that God performed such a miracle! He has used this season of grief to grow my joy!!!
What a beautiful testimony!
God has used heartbreak and disappointment to loose me from the bounds of myself. I did not enjoy those seasons, but I did need them. He knew how to prepare me to receive the blessings of this current season. If I had not clung to Him alone (He made THAT easy since He’d stripped me of everything else), I would have fallen into idolatry. Praises be to Jesus, the good shepherd!
We have all heard the saying, there is wisdom in hindsight. I have learned through these seasons that no one is immune from the subtle deception of the flesh to become complacent, indifferent and to be overconfident in our own abilities,etc. There may be a season of discipline, hopefully a short one, when God needs to get our attention before the distance gets too far between God and us. God’s discipline proves our adoption and as recorded in the end of verse 10 of Hebrews 12, ” for our good that we may share in his holiness.” And in verse 11, God’s purpose is complete, ” For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have trained by it.” The apostle Paul understood this first hand, 2 Cor. 12:1-10, Phil. 3:12-14