v. 1-8 "There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace."
Most people have heard this at some point in their lives. God gives us cycles, which are natural to go through. Our problem is that we get stuck in some of these places and it is difficult to get out. Timing is crucial, we should see the lessons above and be aware that these are things that must happen in life. We determine how we will respond to each event that we go through, we usually have no control over the situations that we are put in.
"Every thing under heaven is thus changeable, but in heaven there is an unchangeable state, and an unchangeable counsel concerning these things." Matthew Henry
Since this is widely known it is easy to gloss over this section. I think it would be good to go to each verse and look at what it says. Each of these verses has multiple meanings for different areas of life, we should learn from these so that our expectations will stay in line of where God wants us to be. These are not all the meanings, just some so we can look more closely at the patterns.
A time to:
be born/die - this is divine timing, it is a process which once started will lead to the other end most assuredly. Acts 17:26 says that He marked out their appointed times in history. God places us in the time period that we are supposed to be in so that we can do the best we can while here on earth. This mentions nothing about living. Not all will get the same amount of time while here, in the span of eternity, our lives are like a tiny grain of sand.
plant/uproot - this follows the harvest season for our food, but also for us as well. Sometimes we are called to stay in our home towns and other times God calls us to other places to live. God also plants nations, He planted Israel to be uprooted to spread the Gospel around the world.
kill/heal & war/peace - this does not mean it's ok for us to murder others. I believe this is for God, His judgment on the people. He also gives mercy and a time for healing. The bible is full of stories of His people turning away from Him, He is a parent and disciplines those He loves. Many times when the Jews turned from Him He did not kill them, He took His hands off of them and they were enslaved or destroyed by another nations. Also many people kill animals to feed their families. War is never an easy choice, it is destructive to us and our environment. Rising up your army to defend your land, maintain your rights or crush your enemy will destroy more than you might be able to conceive. After the US obtained freedom from England, less than 100 years later we were in the Civil War, where we divided the country and over 600,000 people died. Pride will drive a country to war and when it is finally destroyed only then will the pride be defeated into desperation.
tear down/build & tear/mend - sometimes it is best to break apart ties that are corrosive to the soul, if you have family, friends or business partners that are damaging you then distance yourself if you can. Other times we can't see what is going on and God will make the divide for us. We should break off any relationships that are toxic to us, they will slowly drag us down in the end. At times a faulty foundation must be torn down so that a correct one can be put in it's place for the stability of our life.
weep/laugh & mourn/dance - this seems like it should be easy to follow. God gives us seasons of sadness and joy. I have see some stuck in the weeping season and they have over stayed their welcome. If we lose a loved one God doesn't not want us to stay in the weeping season for the rest of our lives. God gave the Israelites time to mourn, in those times He was there for them just like He is here for us. "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18 & "I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow." Jeremiah 31:13. God says He will give comfort and joy to those suffering. There is joy in the end if we will only believe.
scatter stones/gather them & keep/throw away - cast away stones from a field so that you can plant crops and they won't harm the growth of the plants. These same stones that seem useless in a field can be brought together to make strong buildings. Gentiles were the stones that nobody wanted until God reached down to gather them to help build foundations all around the world.
"A time to cast away stones, by breaking down and demolishing fortifications, when God gives peace in the borders, and there is no more occasion for them; but there is a time to gather stones together, for the making of strong-holds. A time for old towers to fall, as that in Siloam Luke 12:4 and for the temple itself to be so ruined as that not one stone should be left upon another; but also a time for towers and trophies too to be erected, when national affairs prosper." Matthew Henry
embrace/refrain - embrace a loved one for their kindness and there are times to refrain when others hurt you. Space apart is much needed when betrayed. We all need love and when we feel validated then we feel that we matter to someone in this world. In situations we know are wrong like cheating we should refrain from affection, you not only will destroy the two lives involved, you will destroy everyone in those two families.
search/give up - There are times to go and seek out wisdom, jobs, finding yourself, etc. Other times we are to give up even though we might not find what we set out to seek. Many will never give up their search which will only leave them frustrated. Some things found will eventually be lost. There is a time to keep things and a time to pass them on to others. Do not hold onto something just because it was your grandparents if you will not use it or give it a place of honor in your home. If we keep things that God is wanting us to get out of our lives then we might also push Him out.
silent/speak - there are times to be silent like Jesus was when He was confronted by the leaders to defend Himself before He was killed. When someone picks a fight about God we do not always have to fight back, who are we to defend Him? Since we are sinners we should only show people what He has done in our lives, not what we think is wrong with them. Other times we are to speak up when we see injustice in the world. Remember if we do not speak out against injustice then it is as if we are in agreement with the injustice we so oppose.
love/hate - There is time to love in our life, it should be an under current in our lives that binds us all together. Hate on the other hand does not give us free reign to hate others for what they have done to us. I believe this means that we should hate injustice in this world so that our actions will show we are against the evil.