“I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:10–11 NIV).
Something in us likes to create patterns in our days and stick to them. What is it about normal that feels so safe and comforting? Why do we crave it? The Bible says that we are created
in God’s image (see Genesis 1:27). This longing that we have is a yearning to touch the infinite, to share in the Immortal’s eternal existence, to rest in Him. Normal feels so safe and comforting because it brings an orderliness to our lives.
Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 reassures us there is an appointed time for every thing and every event this side of heaven. Life contains hard things we must deal with, but those things are counterbalanced with positive and even desirable outcomes. These patterns repeat over and over from one generation to another, and they hold true for everyone, everywhere. This is the universal experience of all humans. As we set out together, this broader understanding of life’s natural rhythms helps us understand why we’re attracted to familiar patterns.
Consider Adam and Eve in the garden experiencing the natural rhythm of life that had been ordained by God the Father. They worked with purpose and they rested, just like God during the creation process. They routinely fellowshipped with God the Father in the cool of the day. Not only was there no external conflict; there was no internal conflict. No need went unsatisfied. Just beauty. Safety. Peace.
When human sin entered the garden, it brought with it changes of cosmic proportions. Changes that would reach through generations and across all cultures. Where there once was harmony, peace, and fulfillment, doubt enters. The ideal of garden-of-Eden-style normal has ended. Everything in creation and in our own lives was turned upside down because of Adam’s and Eve’s sin. Yet despite this fall from grace, we see God’s kindness and faithfulness. As God lovingly pursued their hearts and walked them through a very deliberate process
of confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation, he set eternity in their hearts on another level (see Ecclesiastes 3:11). He offered them a promise, the same promise he offers us today.
A promise of future deliverance, a promise of one day returning things to a God-designed normal.
Until the day Jesus returns, their journey—and ours—will be filled with peril and challenges as well as moments of joy and thanksgiving. Hearts will be shaken. Lives will be rocked. Yet God will remain steadfast. We were designed by an orderly God to thrive in an orderly world. Until Jesus returns, and the garden is restored, we’ll continue to crave a sense of order and normalcy that will always be beyond our reach. The first step is this acknowledgment about ourselves. The next step is seeing how this affects our day-to-day lives and our world.
Is it possible the work God is doing begins with us saying goodbye to normal? Whenever we face the loss of normal, we can encounter God, seeing with fresh eyes the work he might be doing there. He is our sure and steady hope that guides us to embrace the beautiful story unfolding before our very eyes. God is leveraging our circumstances to make us sturdier and more stable. Say goodbye to normal and hello to unshakable faith!
What “normal” are you seeking in your life? How is it often turned upside down? How do you communicate with God when your normal is disrupted?
How does your relationship with God change when you embrace change and look for what God is doing in your current circumstances?
Make a list of your expectations for your circumstances and relationships. Write ways in which your relationship with God influences these expectations and changes to your circumstances. What expectations do you need to let go of? Meditate on Ecclesiastes 3:1–14 and Psalm 62. Ask God to help you align your heart and mind with his plan for your days. Listen to Laura Story’s song “Till I Met You” (available on YouTube).
Thank you, God, that you have built in me a longing for a perfect relationship with you and others. Help me to recognize that reaching that goal this side of heaven is impossible, but to take comfort in your promise that someday you alone will fulfill that longing. Build in me a confidence in your love for me and give me fresh eyes to see you at work in my not so normal circumstances today. May you be glorified in my life as I look to you for my identity, security, and satisfaction. Amen.