When the sun rises in the morning, what are you doing? Are you still sleeping? Are you already at work? Are you on your way to work? We get 24 hours every day until the day that we die, and even though 24 hours a day sounds like a long time, it really isn’t. It seems even shorter in the winter time because the sun rises later and sets sooner.
The 24 hours we get in each day, we never get again. They come and they go. Fast. As a child, 30 seemed ancient and far away. But I will be 30 this year. But what is 30 years compared to 60? What is 60 compared to 80 or 90? And what is 90 compared to eternity? I think 90 years is a long time to live, but in the grand scope of what our existence will truly be, 90 years is nothing.
Today’s verses are Psalm 39:4-7.
LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath. We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.
We are so consumed with time, especially those of us in America. We all carry watches. We all have clocks, although most of my clocks are set wrong. We all have cell phones with the time displayed. Why? Because we don’t want to be late. Americans are the culture most controlled by the power of the clock. We rush from meeting to meeting, always listening to the tick-tock of time and rarely understanding its true significance.
We grasp and clutch and cling to our possessions because it took so long and we worked so hard to earn them. And in the brief time we are alive on earth, we scramble to accumulate as much wealth as possible so that we can live comfortably. Is that wrong?
Well, no. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to live a comfortable life. And there’s nothing wrong with trying to provide for yourself and your family. There are biblical examples of how to run businesses successfully. God has nothing against making money. But the problem with wealth and money and comfort is that they so easily become our idols. When wealth and money and comfort become what we live for, our lives lose their significance. Because what good will it do you when you die? You can’t take it with you.
Life is more than possessions. I try to remember that money is a tool to be used. And I know I struggled with it when I first started working at my current job because I’d gotten so used to having so little that I didn’t know how to live when I had so much. When I could pay my bills and buy my groceries and still have money left over, it threw me. And there is something about having a surplus of money that makes you want to hold on to it. Maybe it doesn’t work that way with everyone, but that’s the way my mind is geared. My first inclination is to hoard. But what good will that do?
No, it’s not wrong to save, especially for someone in my position in life. But if I ever let my hope rest in that savings account, I stop hoping in God.
Verse 11 of this same chapter in The Message says: When you put us through the fire to purge us from our sin, our dearest idols go up in smoke. Are we also nothing but smoke?
God will allow punishment and testing into our lives when we do things that contradict His Word. When we allow money and comfort (or anything else) to take His place in our lives, He won’t let that go. And when the testing comes, those things that we cling to will burn away because they aren’t worth anything, in spite of what the world says.
Comfort. Money. Wealth. Fame. Power. Influence. Sex. None of it will last, and none of it will give you strength enough to face the next 24 hours, no matter how brief it might be in comparison to eternity. Because when God allows trouble into your life, you can try to rely on your idols but none of them will be able to withstand God’s testing.
Only God will remain.
So in our brief, temporary life on earth, it’s a good idea to put our hope in something that will last beyond it. Anything of earth is going to burn away. Everything we know down here is going to come to an end. We need to trust in God because when everything else comes crashing down, He will still be standing.