Tag Archives: life’s brevity

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”  (Psalm 103:13-14, NIV)

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “compassion” as “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.”

To begin to see ourselves as God see us is the first step toward a new frontier of compassion toward others.  To regard ourselves as something other than “dust” — that is, as transitory and humble — is to ignore the lessons of history, the evidence of biology, and the propositions of theology.

We may be able to fool ourselves as to our true make-up because everything seems to be going our way (something the scriptures refer to as “the pride of life”).  However, if we see ourselves as God sees us, we come not only to realize what we are not, but to the realization of Who God is.  It is in such a place that we apprehend the “fear” (also translated as the “reverence”) of the Lord.

The psalmist says that it is upon such people that the Lord’s compassion rests.  God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, as His “sympathetic consciousness” of our distress.  The cross of Jesus is His sole and solitary plan to alleviate that distress.  The resurrection of Jesus is God’s guarantee.  – Luther

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“Lord, reveal to me the end of my life and the number of my days. Let me know how short-lived I am. You, indeed, have made my days short in length, and my life span as nothing in Your sight. Yes, every mortal man is only a vapor. Selah.” (Psalms 39:4-5, HCSB)

It may hurt our ego to think of ourselves as vapors; a wisp of life; appearing then disappearing in the blink of an eye, but against the vast backdrop of time and human history, that is what we are.

Yet, too often we act as if we are going to inhabit the earth indefinitely.  We ignore the wisdom of the bumper sticker: “Life is short. Eternity is long.”

In today’s scripture, David asked God to remind him of the brevity of this life. Indeed, as believers in Jesus, we do have life after life.  But let the reality of our small, short, life-span — and the reminder of each day’s obituaries — provoke us to be recklessly gracious to others; increasingly shrewd in our evaluation of the things that shall pass and the things that shall endure; and more obedient to our heavenly Father in all things.  – Luther

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“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”  (Psalm 90:12, KJV 2000)

It isn’t just cartons of milk that bear an expiration date.  We, too, have a fixed number of days.

It is foolish to live — especially in the face of daily evidence to the contrary — as if we shall never die.  Failing either to number our days — or to act as if our days are numbered — means that we are not truly ready to live, because we are not yet ready to die.

Consider the proverb: “A wise man gives what he cannot keep; to gain what he cannot lose.”  Redeem the time.  – Luther

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