“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven …A time to gain, and a time to lose” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,6).
I was recently privileged to be the commencement speaker at the graduation exercises of two Bible Colleges: one in Asia and the other in Africa. I was impressed at each with the contradictory emotions on vivid display. There was great joy and satisfaction at the successful accomplishments of years of diligent and difficult study. There was also sadness at the prospect of separation from friends, faculty, and a supportive and loved environment. For these graduates the “time to gain” and the “time to lose” came simultaneously.
Most transitions cause both joy and sorrow. We are thrilled at the new status we have gained, but sorrowful for what we must leave behind. The privileges of adulthood are paid for with loss of freedoms we possessed as children. The bliss of marriage comes in place of the independence and lesser responsibilities of single status. Employment, with its accompanying salary, replaces the close fellowship and unique pleasures of college or university life. There is gain in each case, but there is also loss.
Not all transitions are considered progress, however. Sometimes we see only loss. These situations may include loss of employment, death of spouses or other loved ones, or even such normal and expected occasions as retirement. Many regard such events as tragic, and respond with great sorrow. One of the many Christian ministries is to bring comfort to those so afflicted. The greatest source of such comfort is faith in a loving and merciful Father. Certain great Biblical teachings come to mind.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose… If God is for us, who can be against us?… Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?… For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:28,31,38-39).
In many cases gain and loss may not be simultaneous, but rather consecutive. A promotion or move that seems to be gain may bring regret and disappointment and lead to loss of valued relationships or quality of life. On the other hand, illness or financial reversal may contribute to maturity and gained experiences that will prove extremely helpful later in life. So Paul teaches,
“… We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).
Transitions may be both greatly rewarding and, at the same time, difficult. We greet them with joy, but also with sadness. Yet transition is certain. Life is a constant procession, from birth to death. Every stage is given by purpose of God. Faith in his goodness and love is our key to managing the passages of life. He is always with us, and truly “(we) can do all things through Christ who strengthens (us)” (Philippians 4:13).

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