God’s Timing and Purposes – Ecc. 3:1-8
Pastor Vicky MootsKingman, Kansas
Ecc. 3:4: “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” When I first read these two phrases, I thought they were pretty much saying the same thing in a different way. But they are actually different, because you can weep without mourning, and you can laugh without dancing. To “weep” means to “manifest strong emotion by crying, or shedding tears.” We cry in pain or in sorrow, and sometimes we cry with joy, but tears are necessary for weeping. God gave us tears to moisturize our eyes and to cleanse them, but weeping also cleanses the soul.
When is it a time to weep? We are to weep not only for our own sorrow, but also along with others who are weeping, to share in their sorrow or their pain, as Paul commands us in Rom. 12:15, “…weep with them that weep.” By weeping with them we are entering into their feelings and showing compassion.
In John 11:33 we read the account of Jesus’ emotions regarding the death of His good friend Lazarus: “When Jesus therefore saw her [Mary, the sister of Lazarus] weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.” Then in v. 35 we read, “Jesus wept.”
Jesus was not only weeping because he loved Lazarus but because of the sorrow that others were experiencing. He was weeping with those that wept, even though He knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. In addition, he could have been weeping because of their unbelief.
After He miraculously brought Lazarus out of the grave, their tears were turned to tears of joy and laughter. Rom. 12:15 also tells us that we are to “Rejoice with them that do rejoice…” I’m sure that Jesus likewise joined in their laughter and rejoicing. He had previously spoken to His disciples in Luke 6:21: “…Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.” Because of the hope that we now have in the resurrection, there will one day also be a time of laughter in place of our present time of weeping, when we again see our loved one’s faces.
Another time that we should weep is when we cry tears of repentance. Luke gives us an example of this in Luke 7:36-50 when he relates the story of a woman in the city “which was a sinner” who came to the Pharisee’s house where Jesus was eating. Verse 38 tells us that she “stood at his feet weeping and began to wash His feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head…”
Can you imagine how many tears it would actually take to wash someone’s feet? She was truly pouring out her soul at Jesus’ feet. As she wept and washed the dirt of the earth away from Jesus’ dusty, tired feet, He in turn, washed the dirt from her tired, sinful soul as He said to her in v. 48, “…Thy sins are forgiven,” and in v. 50, “…Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”
Even after we are saved, there will likely be times in our lives that we need to weep at the feet of Jesus, to repent of our wrong attitudes or actions toward others or toward God, just as Peter did after he cursed and denied Jesus at the time of the crucifixion. We read in Luke 22:62 that after Peter heard the cock crow, he remembered the words of Jesus and “…went out and wept bitterly.” He also poured out his soul, and Jesus forgave him.
We don’t find many tear-stained altars in churches today. Neither sinners nor Christians seem to be spending much time weeping. It seems as though the tears have dried up due to spiritual dehydration, from a lack of the Living Water, a lack of hearing the Words of Jesus.
I believe that today is the time for weeping, a time for soul searching, tears of repentance, weeping for ourselves and others; for then will come the time for laughter. David declared in Ps. 126:5-6, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
The Apostle Paul was a good example of this. He told the elders of the church at Ephesus, in Acts 20:19, that he had been “Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears…” And in v. 24 he said, “…neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I may finish my course with joy…” The tears came before the joy and the laughter. He sowed the seeds of the gospel, not only with his words, but with his life, and watered it with his tears so that it would produce fruit for rejoicing. God will likewise use our tears to make us fruitful.
We may go through some dark times of trials and weeping, but the morning will come, as David stated in Ps. 30:5, “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” The night doesn’t last forever, and neither do our tears.
David also described our times of weeping poetically in Ps. 84:5-6 when he said, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee…Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well…” “Baca” means “weeping.” It is not a literal valley, but refers to any place of tears. It is a valley that we may have to pass through many times in our lives, but God can collect all those tears and turn them into a well of refreshing and cleansing, if we give them to Him.
We can also choose to intentionally go through the valley of Baca, as Paul did when he said in Phil. 3:10, “That I may know him [Christ]…and the fellowship of his sufferings…” He chose to enter into, to fellowship and share, the emotional suffering of Jesus, and was also willing to suffer physically for Him as he preached the gospel. Why? For the joy that was set before him, just as he said regarding Jesus in Heb. 12:2, “…who [Jesus] for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” Paul looked forward to the joy of reigning with Christ as His bride. But the cross and the time of weeping and suffering come before the crown.
But one day the time of weeping will be over. There will be no more need for tears, as we read in Rev. 21:4: “…and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain…”
Hallelujah! What a day of laughter and rejoicing that will be!