Ecclesiastes 3:11-15 is commonly read at funerals. Outside of its calming rhythmic poetry, few have considered exactly what it means. Space does not allow me to quote the passage, so please click the read link to read it on your own.
The author of Ecclesiastes lays out for us several experiences we might encounter in life. These experiences range from times of celebration to times of tragedy.
The first strange thing you might have noticed when you read the passage is one of the conclusions the author draws. He says, “He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time (v.11).” You might have asked what does “a time to die…a time to kill…a time for war…” and so on have to do with beauty?
The primary voice in this book belongs to a king, likely Solomon. King Solomon was one of the wisest and wealthiest men to ever live. Solomon possibly wrote this book as his last will and testament, a final deposit of wisdom to his son before he departed this earth.
Throughout the book the king goes about the “unhappy business” of examining life “under the sun.” By life “under the sun” he means life as it would seem if God was left out of the equation. He pursued many things, including wisdom, self-indulgence, and justice, but all seems vanity from the standpoint of life “under the sun.” By “vanity” he means something like a vapor, here one moment but then gone with no lasting impact.
From time to time the king arises from the fog of life under the sun and looks at things from a higher point, from the perspective of life lived with God in the equation. There he finds enjoyment in life not in what he did but in who he knows and what he knows about the one he knows, namely God.
We may not understand the vicissitudes of life – for example death – nevertheless, when our lives are lived under God, we can trust him to make all things beautiful in its time, even if we do not understand.
Solomon lived before Jesus’ death and ressurection. Christians today have an even greater reason to trust God with all the events of life, and thus find enjoyment in life’s endeavors. God sent his only Son to this earth to live a perfect life, but he was crucified by the very people he came to save. If God can bring beauty out of that worst event in history, certainly he can make all things beautiful in its time, even the death of one of his servants.