Honestly, I think February is the worst month. It hasn’t mattered where I’ve lived at the time (and I’ve lived a lot of places), though it’s the shortest month, it just seems to drag on and on. It is the worst.
In February, the winter weather seems to have a death grip on the world. We all hope for spring even while we’re trapped in another month of wintery hell. I think it’s that stuck feeling that makes February so bad. We all know that spring is coming. We all start to long for days where we don’t have to wear a coat. Yet we’re still stuck in winter for the foreseeable future.
We can feel like that in life too sometimes. We can know that things have to eventually change. We can look forward to that change, but often we just feel stuck.
Ecclesiastes Bring Us Hope?
That’s where the book of Ecclesiastes can give us hope. Ecclesiastes and hope. Those are two words that people often don’t put together. That could be for good reason. After all the opening words of Ecclesiastes are “’Meaningless, meaningless,’ says the Teacher, ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’” (Ecclesiastes 1:1) Not exactly the most hopeful message.
However, if you read my guest blog post at The Living Tabernacle last week (and you should read it now if you haven’t already), you would have learned that the Hebrew word that the NIV translates as “meaningless” and is translated in other versions as “vanity” is kind of hard to translate. It doesn’t have a very good English equivalent. It literally means “vapor” or “breath”. It can also be used, as it is in Ecclesiastes, to describe something that has some of the same qualities as vapor or breath, in that it doesn’t make much of an impact. It doesn’t last long. It’s worthless, vain, or temporary.
In my own reading of the book of Ecclesiastes, I don’t think the author is saying that life is pointless. I think the point the author is trying to make is that our lives are short and we should enjoy what we can while we can. Each season of life, each part we play, only lasts for a bit. We’re here for a while and then we’re gone.
The author of Ecclesiastes also emphasizes that this world is cyclical, like the seasons. What’s happened before will happen again. Change is a constant, and yet in the grand scheme of things, nothing changes. The same stories repeat. The world is still broken and we can’t fix it.
And the Hope Is…
You’re still probably wondering where the hope part comes in. I’m getting there. If you’re stuck in a season of your life that feels like February, you can know that things are bound to change. Spring is coming! Things are going to get better! Each season of life is short. You should enjoy each season while it lasts as much as you can, but you should know that something else is coming. When you’re stuck in an uncomfortable or sad season, this is great news!
Even if life is great right now, this is still fairly good news. I’m at a point right now where my life has been so good for the last couple of years that I’m just waiting for a tragedy to strike. Maybe that’s a little pessimistic (and my husband has often accused me of being a pessimist), but I think it’s also realistic. Seasons of joy follow seasons of sorrow. The good news is the cycle doesn’t end there. Seasons of sorrow follow seasons of joy. We experience all four seasons (assuming you don’t live in Southern California or anywhere else that’s season-less) one after the other and then we go through the whole cycle again.
Life Is Made Up of Seasons
The same is true in life. We’ll have seasons of growth followed by seasons of stagnation, seasons of love followed by seasons of heartbreak or hate, seasons of joy followed by seasons of mourning. Ecclesiastes chapter 3 reminds us of that. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (3:1) Life is always changing and each change brings with it different hopes and joys and sorrows.
If you’re stuck in the midst of the February “winter is never going to end” blues, don’t be discouraged. The seasons do change and life changes too. We’re never really stuck, at least not for long. Despite how it feels, the seasons keep on coming. Until Jesus comes back and makes our hopelessly broken world right forever and always, things never stay the same for long. May this thought bring you hope in the midst of sadness and an appreciation for what you have in the midst of joy. Whether you’re in a season of joy or sadness, take the author of Ecclesiastes words to heart (even in February:
“I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13)