To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to break down, and a time to build up. — Ecclesiastes 3:1-3
Breaking down and building up seasons are common to all of us, and they can affect many areas of life. We may enjoy a long period of building and flourishing in a particular environment, with ministry or vocational assignments and relationships which are satisfying. But the time comes when work or ministry doesn’t seem to be thriving anymore. We feel like we’re stuck, with no wind in our sails, and the joy and enthusiasm for what we’ve always loved doing or being a part of is gone. The tendency at such a time is to wonder what we’re doing wrong. Or, we might start finding fault with others around us, because things just don’t seem to be humming along smoothly like they once did.
If you are doing your best to walk in Christ-like integrity, but life has shifted into feeling frustrating and stagnant, you may have entered a season of plucking up and breaking down which has been orchestrated by the Lord. God is intentionally loosening ties with that which is familiar, in order to catapult you into something new that He has for you. This is usually an uncomfortable season, to put it mildly! It is often referred to as a season of transition.
If you are an intercessor, you will probably encounter plucking up / breaking down seasons not only in a general sense, but in your prayer life as well. What you once loved to pray into becomes hard to trudge through. The interest simply isn’t there as it was in the past. The tendency at such times is to blame ourselves and to feel guilty: “Why can’t I concentrate on interceding about ______ like I used to? I should be praying about it!” “I’m not being very effective in prayer. What is the matter with me?” It could be that nothing is the matter with you. Most likely your job in that area is done, and God has a new prayer calling on the horizon for you.
The good news is, a breaking down season will always be followed by a building up season. It may take time to see it unfold, but God never leaves us empty-handed. He is not a God of destruction. Rather, He “redeems your life from destruction,” according to Psalm 103:4. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
Breaking down and building up is a principle way in which God works, in our personal lives and right up into what happens at an international level. If we understand this, we will be much more effective in partnering with Him in intercession.
A couple of years ago, while praying for America, I had a vision of an ax chopping away at a huge tree root. I then saw a broom sweeping foundational pavement stones clean. But the foundation itself was solid, and was not broken up. Right now, many things in our nation seem to either be broken or on the verge of breaking. It is a temptation to pray out of reaction to the troubling symptoms which we see with our natural eyes. However, if we listen to the Lord to find out what He is doing (in this case, He is in the process of sweeping the foundations of our nation clean of deterioration and corruption, so that He can rebuild what He had originally planned) we will pray differently, and much more effectively.
As well, the entire world is breaking down. But the Bible tells us this is part of God’s plan, so that He can establish a new heaven and a new earth under His perfect, righteous Lordship. If we have the right focus, we will not be perplexed in the midst of these things. We will be confident in the Lord, rather than wringing our hands in anxiety.
Many of us are desperately trying to hang onto an old order and pray for it to be fixed, whether in our personal lives or on a larger scale. We must learn to understand the times in which we live and pray accordingly with wisdom — discerning whether it is a time to repair what is broken, or whether it’s time to anticipate and pray into the “new” which God is desiring to put into place.