Ecclesiastes 3 New English Translation (NET Bible)
A Time for All Events in Life
3 For everything there is an appointed time,
and an appropriate time for every activity on earth:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
5 A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to search, and a time to give something up as lost;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
7 A time to rip, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent, and a time to speak.
8 A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Man is Ignorant of God’s Timing
9 What benefit can a worker gain from his toil?
10 I have observed the burden
that God has given to people to keep them occupied.
11 God has made everything fit beautifully in its appropriate time,
but he has also placed ignorance in the human heart
so that people cannot discover what God has ordained,
from the beginning to the end of their lives.
Enjoy Life in the Present
12 I have concluded that there is nothing better for people
than to be happy and to enjoy
themselves as long as they live,
13 and also that everyone should eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all his toil,
for these things are a gift from God.
14 I also know that whatever God does will endure forever;
nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken away from it.
God has made it this way, so that men will fear him.
15 Whatever exists now has already been, and whatever will be has already been;
for God will seek to do again what has occurred in the past.
The Problem of Injustice and Oppression
16 I saw something else on earth:
In the place of justice, there was wickedness,
and in the place of fairness, there was wickedness.
17 I thought to myself, “God will judge both the righteous and the wicked;
for there is an appropriate time for every activity,
and there is a time of judgment for every deed.
18 I also thought to myself, “It is for the sake of people,
so God can clearly show them that they are like animals.
19 For the fate of humans and the fate of animals are the same:
As one dies, so dies the other; both have the same breath.
There is no advantage for humans over animals,
for both are fleeting.
20 Both go to the same place,
both come from the dust,
and to dust both return.
21 Who really knows if the human spirit ascends upward,
and the animal’s spirit descends into the earth?
22 So I perceived there is nothing better than for people to enjoy their work,
because that is their reward;
for who can show them what the future holds?