This Too Shall Pass
By Dot Bowen
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)
I remember a difficult time in my life when I held onto four little words: “This too shall pass.” My mom had been diagnosed with cancer, and my 16-year-old son needed a serious operation. I’ve never been more excited to celebrate New Year’s eve than that year—surely the coming year would be better than the last. There are difficult seasons in life when it appears our only hope is “this too shall pass.” If life has taught me anything, it’s taught me there is a time to weep and a time for joy. Each of us will experience seasons of difficulty and seasons of hope. But we must be careful not to carry our difficult seasons into our seasons of hope and miss the joy of the new season.
King Solomon wrote, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.” Do you know there’s a connection between our busyness and our seasons of life? Just recently our family attended Camp Kanakuk in Branson, Missouri. Joel Thomas, a former pastor and friend from my home church, happened to be teaching the adults the week we attended camp. Although I’ve heard many messages about the seasons of life, Joel’s teaching opened my eyes to see how blending seasons of life can play a huge role in being over-busy and feeling overwhelmed. The person who refuses to let go of a previous season of life is never content with their current season—always longing for “how things used to be.”
If we merge seasons, we find ourselves trying to simultaneously live in “the land of was” and “the land of is,” not enjoying either. This can be seen at the ball field when a father lives vicariously through his child, demanding the child to be a better ball player than he was when he was a child. Or the person who can’t move beyond college life and prioritizes partying with friends over time with their families. We’ve all seen a woman who fears aging and dresses like a twenty year old. There are moms who don’t allow their adult children to take responsibility for their own lives and continue to treat them as if they were small children. When we add the pressure of holding on to our past seasons while living in our present season, we may be doing a lot, but not doing anything well. The apostle Paul reminded the church in Corinth of this very principle when he wrote, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”
In order for us to get the most out of today, we must accept our current season of life. What are you holding on to that’s keeping you from enjoying today? Are you afraid to let go of a past season of life and accept your new season of life? It’s difficult to let go of what we know to face the unknown. But we must let go of what we cling to in order to take hold of what is next. To find fulfillment in our current situation, we must forget what lies behind, and we must press forward to what lies ahead. The life that wins will be the life that continues to press upward to new things. We can learn from the past, but we mustn’t hold on to the past even if it’s better than our present situation.
I returned from camp and have been examining my busy life and asking God if my busyness is a result of holding on to past responsibilities of which I should let go? Are you busy? If so, is it because you are continuing to do things you know you need to put in your past? In Matthew 6:34, Jesus taught us not to worry: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Trust Jesus; don’t be anxious about your life. Who can add a single hour to life by worrying? How true this is! If we continue to hold onto yesterday, we’ll never be able to handle what faces us today! If you find yourself overwhelmed, examine your life to see if you are blending your past and present seasons. No one has enough time or energy to do both. Trust me, I’ve tried.
Further Reading Ecclesiastes 3:1; 1 Corinthians 13:11; Matthew 6:34