This is the second in an occasional series of reflective essays. I don’t know all that I will ever know on this subject, but I know what I have learned to this point, and I share it with you in the hopes that it may be an encouragement to you in some way.

Lesson 2: There are seasons in life. Again, not really earth-shattering is it? Solomon wrote that “to every thing there is a season” three thousand years ago. But it takes a lifetime to learn what he meant. Let me illustrate with a small example.

A year ago Pam’s Mom passed away. She had been getting weaker for a number of years and had broken her hip so many times there was finally nothing left for the surgeons to do but remove the leg. Pam’s Dad had been an absolute rock for many years, tending his wife through nursing homes and hospitals with loving care. But finally her days were at an end, and on December 27th she was buried in a touching ceremony surrounded by her family and friends.

Pam and I returned that evening still a little shell-shocked by all the details of the funeral arrangement, our thoughts filled with sorrow at Mom’s passing. We got home to find a message on our answering machine: Nicole, our daughter-in-law had gone into labour and little Benjamin was born that night. The next day we had the joy of cradling him in our arms, rejoicing with his parents in the wonder of new life.

Could anything more poignantly express Solomon’s wise counsel than this? Yes, there is heart-breaking sorrow in all of our lives, but there is also inexpressible joy. There are times of turmoil and stress, such as I have been through in my first six months in Malaysia, and there are times of relaxation and refreshment, such as my past two weeks in Cambodia.

Why are we so reluctant to go through the one in order to reach the other? They are both an integral part of life and equally necessary for our growth as human beings. Doesn’t a loving God know what is best for us and for the others that will be impacted by our lives? Yet we worry and fret and stamp our little feet with impatience at having to endure a moment’s delay in getting to where we want to be. What is the point in getting anywhere if we are not ready to do what God needs us to do when we get there? Doesn’t He know best how to prepare us, whatever that takes?

I am resolved in this new year, to take what comes to me through God’s loving hands: both sorrow and joy, sickness and comfort, stress and refreshment as He measures it to me. And to thank Him for it.

                       “He whose heart is kind beyond all measure

                        Gives unto each day what He deems best

                        Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure

                        Mingling toil with peace and rest.”