Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions
I wonder if you’ve thought about this phrase: life is fragile. It’s a simple statement, but true. Time flies and life is short, except when you’re young. Then you see your life as never-ending. We pick up sickness and illness, and realise that death is going to be a reality one day. Hopefully not for a long time to come.
Throughout the world, statistics show that one person dies every 1.78 seconds. Frightening statistic, isn’t it? In our culture, we find ways to ignore facts like this, and we would rather numb ourselves with busyness, entertainment, or taking a long holiday. Anything except thinking how short our life is.
We need to come to grips with questions like: Does my life have meaning and significance? What is my purpose? And so we have a dilemma. Life is short and we are in danger of living our lives without meaning.
Looking Back On Our Lives
Sometimes we face problems which cause feelings of despair or desperation—has that happened to you? I heard of an 83-year-old lady who was looking back on her life. In her diary she wrote this:
I’m reading more and dusting less. I’m sitting in the yard and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I wear my good clothes to the market and put on my special perfume for every day. Words like ‘someday’ and ‘one of those days’ are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing now.
I found that refreshing. She writes to her family telling them she loves them, says sorry for the wrongs she has done, and tells herself that each day is special. In other words, what this 83-year-old lady is saying is that every minute and every breath is a gift from God.
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Psalm 90 from the Old Testament is a good Psalm to read from time to time. Written by Moses it’s the oldest of all the Psalms and speaks directly about the brevity of life. If you have a look at it, it’s set up like a sandwich. At the beginning, and then at the end, it speaks of the eternal God:
O Lord, you have always been our home.
Before you created the hills
or brought the world into being,
you were eternally God,
and will be God forever. (Psalm 90:1-2 – GNT)
And then the writer brings us to earth with a bang:
You tell us to return to what we were;
you change us back to dust.
A thousand years to you are like one day;
they are like yesterday, already gone,
like a short hour in the night.
You carry us away like a flood;
we last no longer than a dream.
We are like weeds that sprout in the morning,
that grow and burst into bloom,
then dry up and die in the evening. (verses 3-6).
Verse 10 says:
Seventy years is all we have—
eighty years, if we are strong;
yet all they bring us is trouble and sorrow;
life is soon over, and we are gone.
Then verse 12:
Teach us how short our life is,
so that we may become wise.
An older translation says, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”. There’s a lot to think of in this Psalm that serves as a warning that life is fragile.
It does sound a bit gloomy and full of despair as Moses looks back on his life—but Moses was asking God for the right perspective when he asked God to help him in the days he had left. It also serves as a warning not to rush through life without discovering meaning and purpose.
Interesting comparison to God himself who stretches his glory from everlasting to everlasting, while we may show up for 80 years. And so the dilemma is that life is short and we are in danger of living without meaning.
[Lord] Teach us how short our life is, so that we may become wise. (Psalm 90:12 – GNT)
Towards the end of Psalm 90 Moses prayed this:
Fill us each morning with your constant love,
so that we may sing and be glad all our life.
Give us now as much happiness as the sadness you gave us
during all our years of misery.
Lord our God, may your blessings be with us.
Give us success in all we do! (verses 14-15 & 17).
This means that Almighty God is the answer to life’s big questions. He brings meaning and purpose to our own lives as we turn the control over to him. After all he created us in his image and we can have the opportunity to discover life as we give ourselves to him.
One writer says: “If we cling to our lives, we destroy them. Because we were not made to cling—we were made in God’s image and are therefore ourselves when we give ourselves away”. When God calls us to follow him, he’s not squeezing us into a mould. He’s actually calling us to be who we were made to be.
Father in Heaven, from everlasting to everlasting, you are God. You are infinitely good. You gave yourself for us, that we might live life fully. Take us as we are, and we will offer what we’ve got, trusting you for now and eternity. Amen.