Tag Archives: life’s brevity

““All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. . .  The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”  (Isaiah 40:6b, 8, NIV)

In the spring of each year, we are reminded of the splendor of nature as lawns and fields green-up; and flowers add color to every scene.  It is wonderful to behold, but we know it lasts only for a season — even if it is repeated next spring.

Isaiah reminds us that we, too, are like the grass and the flowers: Magnificent in many ways, but also fleeting.  In the context of more than 6,000 years of recorded history, our singular 70 or 80 years of life is less than a dim flash.

Isaiah also reminds us that though we are less than a vapor, God’s word endures for all of time and eternity.  If we desire any permanence in what we do or say, it must be enveloped in and consistent with God’s word.  Such consistency comes only through the reading and the heeding of scripture.  – Luther

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“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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