We feel the ebb and flow of life every day. We bounce from stressful circumstances to joyful ones and back again, sometimes multiple times a day and seemingly for no reason. At times life just doesn't make sense, and it can be downright exhausting. But fortunately for us, we have God and His word to turn to when we need it most.
One of the most beautiful and poetic passages to me in scripture is Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, and it speaks directly to this tension. "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven;" (Eccles 3:1) That should come as a comfort to us. Even when life seems to be out of control, it is only for a season. We know that God is ultimately in control, and we can trust Him to bring us through anything. However, the passage continues in verse 4 with “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance”, breaking out what these ‘seasons’ might look like. Lately, I have experienced the season called mourning quite deeply.
Everywhere I have turned the past few weeks, I have seen my friends walking through intense times of mourning and grieving. When we experience a death, a deep sin against us, or even a failed midterm or class, it can shatter our illusions of comfort and security. It can make us question the very truest things about us and about God. But there is one thing that is clear in this passage in Ecclesiastes: seasons of mourning are natural. It is okay to feel scared or angry or confused. We don't have to immediately have it figured out and put our lives back together just the way they were. In fact, we are even encouraged here to live into that season of mourning. If we don't take the time to process and heal, we can never move on in the way God wants us to be able to. It may come as a shock to some, but God actually created mourning as a blessing to us to be able to process and grow through hard times. Mourning is its own season that is important for our growth and development.
But how do we get through such a hard time? The last thing I want is to be told to continue into my suffering - I want out! There are a few things God has given us to help us through rough seasons. Firstly, he has given us each other. In Romans 12:15, we are instructed to “weep with those who weep”. This instruction goes both ways – If we know people who are troubled, we are to empathize with them. But we also ought to seek out the love of other people when we are in agony. We were not meant to go through life alone, especially when suffering is upon us. The gift of fellowship is one of the most incredible things God has given us.
Secondly, he has given us the very gift of Himself. The scriptures are full of God’s promises for those who are suffering:
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” –Psalm 34:18
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.” – Psalm 46:1
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” – Psalm 147:3
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” – Romans 8:18
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5
The list goes on much longer than I have space for (although I'll leave some verses for reference at the bottom here). But it is clear that even as we struggle to make sense of the world around us, God is constantly in it with us, strengthening us and helping us through.
Take some time to meditate on these verses. When troubles come, God wants us to cling to Him and to His word. He is able to comfort us and provide for us in a way that no one and nothing else can. No matter what happens to us, “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” (Romans 8:38). And even as we experience the reality that there is a time to mourn, we are also promised a time to dance.
For anyone in need, here are some more verses to cling to:
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
2 Corinthians 4:17