The beginning of a new year often brings a chance to reflect on how the last year has gone. Many of us also take some time to make goals or resolutions for the next 365 days. 2024 will be a unique year for many reasons. It’s a leap year, so February will have a 29th day. The world will enjoy the 33rd Summer Olympic Games, set to take place in Paris. Here in the USA, we’ll have a presidential election, which probably brings mixed feelings for most of us. And none of that accounts for the things that each of us is anticipating in our personal lives.
Something that struck me in the last few days as I’ve been thinking about the new year is the fact that we are now closer to the year 2055 than we are to the year 1990. I’m not sure how we got here, since it feels like the 90’s were just a couple of years ago, but here we are. The passing of time is such a strange phenomenon. There are seasons in which it feels like time is moving painfully slowly. My husband and I are expecting our first baby in June, and let me tell you, the first-trimester experience of morning sickness (that is not actually only a morning time thing) and exhaustion felt like it stretched on for far longer than the few weeks it actually was. Similarly, there are seasons in time that seem to move so quickly we can’t even catch our breath.
Ultimately, as believers, we can ‘catch our breath’ and rest in the truth that God is holding all of time and eternity in His ever-capable hands. Scripture has a lot to say about time and the seasons of life. Perhaps one of the most well-known places this is discussed is in Ecclesiastes.
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.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 11 ESV
Our lives can be incredibly chaotic at times. We can go from weeping to laughing, from silence to speaking, or even war to peace in a matter of moments. There is often a fine line between love and hate and mourning and dancing. All of our experiences can feel completely random. King Solomon, who penned the words of Ecclesiastes, knew this well. Solomon is perhaps most famous for having been made incredibly wise by God Himself, and even with all that wisdom, he still struggled with feeling that all of life was meaningless (Ecc. 1:2-3). The passing of time can do that to us. Yet when we root our lives in the truth of the Gospel, we find that verse 11 isn’t just a heart-warming sentiment. It is a reality that gives everything we experience great purpose and beauty… even in seasons of hardship.
The idea that God has put eternity into man’s heart is a bit confusing at first glance. How do we even conceptualize that? Well, that’s what the second part of that verse means. We can’t conceptualize it. We are incapable of understanding what God is doing from the beginning to the end of time. Somewhere inside each of us, there is an awareness that there is more out there than just ourselves in our own time. The Lord holds the answers to all the questions we could ever come up with (and the ones we can’t even begin to imagine). And while we typically don’t understand what He is doing, we can hold confidently to the fact that “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
So, as we take our first steps into 2024, still uncertain of all that this year will hold, I hope you’ll allow me to take this opportunity to encourage you with the great truth that, in its time, everything we experience will be beautiful. And, what’s even greater news than that is the fact that our Savior Jesus Christ continues to reign on His eternal throne… which is far more beautiful than any of us could ever fathom. I pray that each and every one of us will rest in Him for all of 2024 and beyond.