In the Meantime

We refer to the time between two things as the meantime. It is called the meantime because it is the time in the middle. Just as a mathematician refers to the middle number in a set of numbers as the mean, time can have a mean. It is that period of time between the beginning and the ending.

As I thought about this more, it occurred to me that the meantime can seem to treat us rather meanly. It can be downright mean. The mean-time often brings with it all kinds of maladies and calamities. Consider the following:

  • Joseph eventually became prominent. In the mean-time, he was mistreated by his brothers.
  • God’s people were told that they would be led out of Egypt. In the mean-time, they were slaves in Egypt.
  • David would kill Goliath. In the mean-time, he was ridiculed by his family, Saul, and Goliath.
  • Paul longed to be eternally with Christ. In the mean-time he had a thorn in the flesh.

The book of Ecclesiastes has quite a bit to say about life in the meantime. There are different ways that people approach this book of wisdom. Some say that it paints a picture of life in which the glass is half-empty. Life is filled with vanity. All of our labor and toil ultimately will be forgotten, and old age will come upon us wreaking havoc.

Others see Ecclesiastes as a view of the world in which the glass is half-full. Yes, life is difficult. But ultimately, life does have deep and enduring meaning. God is with us, and insofar as we seek God and His will, we will understand the true meaning of this life.

Anyone who has lived for any length of time knows that life can seem quite mean. Many of us come out of the womb crying, and we go to the grave in a similar fashion. The early church truly lived in mean times. The persecution was horrendous. The same can be said of the treatment of God’s people in the Old Testament. It was not always the nations around them. The prophets speak about the Jewish people mistreating their fellow Jews.

Hebrews 11:36-37 says that there were those who, “experienced mocking and flogging, and further, chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented (people of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts, on mountains, and sheltering in caves and holes in the ground.”

The moral of the story of Hebrews 11 is found in Hebrews 12. Why are we told about all these people? It is “so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3). When the meantime seems like a mean time, don’t grow weary and don’t lose heart.