“Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah Surely every man walks about like a shadow; surely they busy themselves in vain; he heaps up riches, and does not know who will gather them.” Psalm 39:4–6
One of the bitter sweet blessings of being a pastor is the opportunity I get to be with families and help them as they say goodbye to their loved ones that have died. The bitterness is inherent in all the pain and loss associated with death and dying. Sometimes the majority of the pain was wrapped up in the process and circumstances leading up to the death, like with those that pass away from a long battle with illness or some other condition. Other times the bitterness is in the death itself like in the event of a sudden death from and accident, or other unexpected reason for death.
Over the past twenty-two years I’ve been called on to help with deaths from agedness, accidents, cancer and other prolonged diseases, heart attack, birth complications, and suicide. All of these experiences have reinforced to me certain facts about life: the first is that it is precious, the second is that it is fragile, and the third is that it is fleeting.
It seems that when we’re young we’re not so conscious of the second and third realities of life. Sure, we know that some people die young and tragically but somehow we believe that we’re exempt, or immune, from these possibilities and, therefore, have all the time in the world. As for the preciousness of life, the first reality, I think that far too many of us take it for granted. Too late in life we learn to appreciate what a wonderful thing life is and as a result we squander or waste much of the opportunities and blessings we’re given when we were blessed with it.
In our focus text David suggests to us that the blessings of life aren’t found in busying ourselves in the accumulation of wealth and possessions. Of this kind of endeavor he says, “Surely they busy themselves in vain.”
When something is vain it’s empty our worthless. The mere gathering of wealth so that we can seek security, comfort, or pleasure is, for David, a waste of time and the life God gave us.
Verse seven reveals what the precious gift of our lives on this sinful planet are for. The words, “My hope is in you,” tells us that the finding and nurturing of a relationship with God, and a strong reliance on him, and a hope in the life and future he’s promised us is the purpose for which our lives have been give to us.
God is calling for us to find him, and to help others find him, that we might find in him the hope that gives light, and joy, and victory to our lives.
The hope of our lives is in Jesus.