He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
If you listen closely, you’ll frequently hear people say something like, “There’s gotta be a better way,” “That’s just not right,” and “This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.” Even from a young age, children cry: “It’s not fair!” They’re right. It’s not fair. This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. Things in this life don’t fit.
C.S. Lewis, in the book A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken, used the concept of time to say we’ve been made for something greater. To paraphrase, if we were fish, we would not complain about living in water; it would be what we were designed for. But living as humans in time, we’re never quite satisfied with how it all goes: We feel cheated by the brevity of time, while frustrated with time that seems to drag on. So much to do, but never enough time. We are surprised by the abruptness of death in a young one, and the delay of death in an elderly or terminal loved one who is suffering. And yet it’s not the fault of time – time is constant! Lewis, then, says that we feel out of place in time because we were made for a timeless existence.
Similarly, we have ideals about justice and what is good. Whether we are rallying for that justice to be accomplished through peace or through warfare, we want to fix what is not right and bring ultimate justice to that which is unjust. We cannot seem to agree as a global community on what that really looks like, and yet we all desire it. Our relativistic society says that everyone’s good is good, but how can so many conflicting notions of that good really be in harmony?
King Solomon said, “God has placed eternity in the hearts of men.” The Amplified Bible continues, “[which is] a divine, implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy.” We will never see an agreement about how to effect justice or a definitive list on right and wrong with which the whole world agrees. Even Christians are divided on issues where opinions are formed by the Bible and by the tradition of the Church. You were made for something greater. We have these greater ideals set in our hearts – in fact, eternity set in our hearts – because God created us for more than this. Rather than being a frustration, it can be a great comfort when the world and this life disappoint. Where do you connect most with the eternity that God has put in your heart? What does a life look like when one lives with eternity in mind? Take comfort in eternity.
God, life on this earth is confusing and often painful. I believe there is a better way. Help me to find comfort in and connect with the coming reality.