Sermon Illustrations - Tag: Ecclesiastes 3:11
Posted by Douglas on Feb 14, 2006

I have a violin which was given to me by my aunt many years ago. It is a beautiful instrument, and is capable of making very beautiful sounds. When I look at my violin, and listen to the sounds it makes, I think, "What an extraordinary piece of workmanship!"

The pieces of wood were carefully cut from the trunk of the tree in thin sheets, which were then cut into exactly the right shapes to fit together into a musical instrument. But that's not the end of the process; the ribs (the wood separating the front and back plates of the instrument) had to be planed to the right width, heated, and bent to the shape necessary.

The face plates were carved in a "bowl" shape, and hollowed out to make just the right thickness and curvature to resonate properly. Too thick, and the violin wouldn't resonate. Too thin, and the violin wouldn't hold the tension of the strings.

If only the tree trunk could speak -- what would it say? "What are you doing to me? Why are you cutting me up? Why are you putting me on the fire and heating me? Get that knife away from me!"

But each painful cut, each bending and twisting, is necessary to make something beautiful! If only the tree knew what the violin maker was doing, how it might rejoice to know that it was being transformed into something of extraordinary beauty! So it is with us; James tells us (James 1:2-4) to rejoice when we face difficult times, because difficult times mean that God is making something beautiful of our lives, just as the violin maker transforms the drab tree trunk into something amazing. We should approach our difficult circumstances with the attitude, "Hooray! God is making me complete and beautiful!"

Of course, one of the difficulties for us is that we cannot see the end of the work. Just as the tree trunk can't understand what the craftsman is doing, we can't see what it is God is making of our lives. Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that we will not "find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." Nevertheless, the same verse tells us that God "has made everything beautiful in its time."

The real tragedy would be if the tree could stop the violin maker from creating what he desired. What would be the end result? The tree would never become something beautiful and long-lasting. The violin would never be made. But the tree would still serve a purpose; it would keep someone warm in the winter time. But if I had my choice, I'd choose being a violin over being firewood!

1:2Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.James 1:2-4 (ESV)

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