Ecclesiastes can depress us with its time to mourn, to weep, to die. The writer lists fourteen “opposites” in a few shortverses. All in all, they reflect twenty-eight facets of human life.So if we focus only on the sobering aspects, we’ll overlook God’s joyful imperative. Beyond our birth, choices and actions lie within human grasp, and wise is the person who recognizes the appropriate time for each. Life comes to us in an ordered fashion. Yes, there is a time for everything, even sorrow; but there is also a time to laugh and sing and dance. While life has its horrible moments, clearly God yearns for our happiness, and we play a role in discerning the right time for the right action. As Psalm 8 points out, God has made us a little lower than the divine. God has crowned us with glory and honor and given us power over the earth and all that lives. But we cannot fail to notice that the psalm both opens and closes with emphasis on God’s sovereignty. Our glory and honor falls within the parameters of God’s oversight. Yes, the coming year will bring its share of hardship and sorrow. After all, there is a time for everything. But God has given us all creation, love, laughter, and meaningful work to fill our days. We “eat and drink and take pleasure in all [our] toil.” God desires that the tenor of our lives be that of joy.

God of our past and future, your glory and majesty lie beyond our comprehension. However, we know you love us and want us to savor lives of love and happiness. So when inevitable difficulties and sorrows come our way, help us remember the fullness of your blessings. May our lives point toward Jesus, who suffered greatly yet enjoyed your goodness and love. Amen.

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