How Paradoxes Become Purposeful: Gleaning Wisdom From Ecclesiastes

Paradox appears around us. Even in scripture.

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 throw 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 throw 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. (Ecclesiastes 1:3-8)

Originating in the Garden of Eden, humanity has sought control over life this side of Heaven. Seemingly, tasting the full knowledge of good and evil promised security. But we are the created. Not the Creator. Thankfully.

Left to our own devices, our vision of “good” is skewed.

The passage from Ecclesiastes reminds us that God’s goodness may not resemble our expectations. Living in undefined territory feels uncomfortable How can something seen as “good” paradoxically become “not good” in a different context? Messy boundaries demand surrender to a greater understanding of creation. How about the Creator? (My ways are higher than your ways).

Currently, we struggle with “a time to refrain from embracing.” Knowing that scientific evidence points to the life-giving properties of touch and the sacred nature of our relationships with one another, refraining from touch seems to run contrary to God’s design.

But what about those paradoxes?

Perhaps, we can reframe them as purposes rather than paradoxes. Scripture attests to times when touch was life giving and when it was not. When it was life giving to weep and when it was better to laugh. When we hold onto one action for the sake of security, it becomes an idol. Letting go and embracing it’s alternative, allows us to trust that God is by our side in the midst of it all.

May we continue to seek the Holy Spirit as we navigate the messy parts of life. Knowing that what may seem purposeful for a neighbor may not be for us. As we do that, we recognize that God really does have the whole world in his hands.

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1 thought on “How Paradoxes Become Purposeful: Gleaning Wisdom From Ecclesiastes

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    The times we live are really odd,
    so quickly they appreared;
    if they have to do with God
    I think He’s really weird.
    Everything has come unglued,
    and nothing is the same,
    and now we’re not supposed to
    foregather in His Name!
    But there are some ways around
    the new and frightful rules;
    we still hear the singing sound,
    new instruments and tools,
    so do your best, see how it rocks
    the puzzle and the paradox.


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