Life, like the universe, is a series of repetitive cycles. The sun rises and sets, the tide ebbs and flows, generations come and go, and the only constant in this world is change itself. The human experience is one of contrasts; ups and downs, sadness and happiness, tragedy and joy. Oftentimes the changes are manifesting so quickly, its enough to make your head spin. The truth is however, we will never be able to escape change.
The wise teacher wrote in the book of Koheleth (Ecclesiastes):
For everything there is a season,
a right time for every intention 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 throw stones and a time to gather stones,
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 discard,
a time to tear and a time to sew,
a time to keep silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
As human beings, having control over our lives is extremely important to us. We desire an environment that is stable and predictable; we crave security. The reality is, as hard as we try to have it all figured out, it is impossible to chart a certain path. Everything in this world is in continuous motion and so are our life experiences.
Jewish wisdom teaches us that by “changing our eye” (one’s perspective), we can gain the necessary clarity to help us navigate our way through even the most challenging of times. Truth is, you can either allow change to overwhelm you, or you can embrace the season that you are in and learn the lessons that Heaven is teaching you. So, as we make our way through life, observe times and seasons in its literal sense. The sweltering heat of the summer gives way to the beautiful colours of autumn, and the blistering cold of winter leads to the newness of spring; a time of rebirth. Day gives way to night and out of darkness emerges the dawn. If you are willing to submit to the process, out of the unknown can arise opportunities to refresh, recharge, renew and grow – only if you submit yourself to the process.
What about when life seems to be a cycle of delays and unfulfilled dreams and desires? One of my favourite verses in Koheleth is “God has made everything beautiful in its time” (3:11). It means there is an appointed time when God’s promises will come to fruition in your life. See your period of waiting as a time of preparation. Take this powerful lesson from an expectant mother, who has to wait nine months for her baby to be fully developed. She goes through periods of anxiety as she waits to meet her bundle of joy. She wonders what he or she will look like and what character traits the baby will have. She sometimes feels as if she is on a constant roller coaster of emotions. The process of waiting is never easy but it is necessary for a healthy baby. Not only that, as the baby is developing within her, she is also going through a process of being prepared for her new role, mentally, emotionally and physically. It is the same with our dreams and desires – there is a time appointed for them to be birthed. In the meantime, you are being prepared on all levels to receive the promise.
If you are going through a trying season, remember that change is on the horizon. You will come through on the other side with more wisdom and strength. Challenges help to open our eyes to God’s sovereignty over life’s activities. They also build emotional and mental capacity within us and strengthen our spiritual muscles. We should never fear the trying times, we should see them as the catalyst to take us to the next level in our spiritual maturity. As human beings we have no control over life’s activities but we certainly have the power to control our response to them. Even within the ever changing cycles, one can choose to find meaning in life. The point that needs to be seen here is that what appears to be roadblocks, can either diminish or enrich our lives, depending on how we see it. Jewish wisdom teaches us that perspective is everything.
– From Jewish Wisdom and the Meaning of Life: A Journey through Koheleth