For many of us, the month of December is spent in busy, sometimes even frantic preparations for Christmas. Even though life can get a little crazy, we enjoy the flurry of activity, the lights and decorations, the special music. As December 25th approaches, we enjoy time set aside to spend with family and friends, the tradition of exchanging gifts, and most importantly, the celebration of the greatest gift of all - the Christ child, God's own Son, born in Bethlehem as a baby just like us. But as December 26th comes, and the 27th, and the 28th, the flurry of activity and fades, and we are left to reflect on the soon-coming end of an old year and the start of a new. For some, reflection on 2014 may be full of joy. Perhaps for you, 2014 was filled with new opportunities, good friends, or the beautiful celebration of a wedding or a birth of a child, a grandchild, niece or nephew. For others, this reflection is full of sorrow, full of memories of the loss of a loved one, the struggles of difficult times economically, conflict between friends and family, or tough choices in any number of areas of life. For many of us, each year is full of both good times and bad, rejoicing and tears, challenges and successes, highs, lows and the lulls in between. As we look back on the year as a whole, we can see the many individual times and seasons woven and tied together into a bigger picture. The question is, how do we view the bigger picture?
Whenever we begin the process of creating a new ballet here at Ballet 5:8, we simultaneously delve into a study of the thoughts and ideas, often from Scripture, that are the basis for the new ballet. Each year's study is challenging in a new way, but this year's study of the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes, in anticipation of The Four Seasons of the Soul, was particularly striking in its bluntly practical view of life, work and its futility in many ways in light of the unavoidable end in death for each one of us. Should we then look back on 2014 with indifference? With discouragement as we reflect on the more challenging and difficult aspects of the year?
As we've shared before here on this blog, there is a tiny sentence found in Ecclesiastes 3 that brings to light a wonderful truth about God and about the mixed times and seasons that make up our lives:
He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. [Ecc 3:11 ESV]
Beautiful, you ask? How can all these darker times be beautiful? What about all the pain and suffering that has happened this year, in my immediate experience and even more, across the world? This is a great question that can only be answered from the perspective of the Christian faith. This world that we live in IS definitely full of pain and suffering. It has been this way ever since sin and evil first entered the world through Adam and Eve's disobedience, thousands and thousands of years ago. But we have a God full of love that has made a beautiful promise: God is making everything beautiful in its time. We can't always see it from our vantage point right now, as the time has not necessarily come yet. Nonetheless, those who have accepted God's gift of the promise of eternal life through God's son, Jesus, have an eternal assurance of everything being made beautiful, every tear being wiped away, every hurt being made whole, in God's time.
For now, even as we feel the sorrow of the difficult parts of our year, we can rejoice in the glimpses of eternity that are seen in the tidbits of the beautiful from the year. As we see those glimpses, we can look at the whole and find hope in the promise that everything will be made beautiful in its time.
"...but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." [Rom 5:8 ESV]