Life’s Too Short

 Life’s too short. 

How many times have you heard that or said that? 

Life’s too short, so eat dessert first. 

Life’s too short to stay angry at your spouse. 

Life’s too short, so spend the money now for that trip you’ve always wanted to take.

Life’s too short to be miserable all the time, so change your situation.

In this Psalm written by Moses, we see this theme in a different context. In his view, life’s too short and then you die. In the meantime, we experience God’s wrath and anger. Now that’s a sobering and discouraging thought! According to this Psalm, we toil and trouble all of our lives and in the end, we just fly away. Yikes!

Psalm 90 (Common English Bible)

Lord, you have been our help,
    generation after generation.
Before the mountains were born,
    before you birthed the earth and the inhabited world—
    from forever in the past
    to forever in the future, you are God.

You return people to dust,
    saying, “Go back, humans,”
    because in your perspective a thousand years
    are like yesterday past,
    like a short period during the night watch.
You sweep humans away like a dream,
    like grass that is renewed in the morning.
True, in the morning it thrives, renewed,
    but come evening it withers, all dried up.
Yes, we are wasting away because of your wrath;
    we are paralyzed with fear on account of your rage.
You put our sins right in front of you,
    set our hidden faults in the light from your face.
Yes, all our days slip away because of your fury;
    we finish up our years with a whimper.
10 We live at best to be seventy years old,
    maybe eighty, if we’re strong.
But their duration brings hard work and trouble
    because they go by so quickly.
    And then we fly off.
11 Who can comprehend the power of your anger?
    The honor that is due you corresponds to your wrath.
12 Teach us to number our days
    so we can have a wise heart.

13 Come back to us, Lord!
    Please, quick!
    Have some compassion for your servants!
14 Fill us full every morning with your faithful love
    so we can rejoice and celebrate our whole life long.
15 Make us happy for the same amount of time that you afflicted us—
    for the same number of years that we saw only trouble.
16 Let your acts be seen by your servants;
    let your glory be seen by their children.
17 Let the kindness of the Lord our God be over us.
    Make the work of our hands last.
    Make the work of our hands last!

But take a look again at the first two verses of this Psalm, which describe the image of God as our help in all generations. This indeed is a word of comfort. What does it mean to you to have God as your help? Moses assures us that from forever in the past to forever in the future, God doesn’t change. In the midst of toil and trouble, remembering that God is God (and we are not) helps tremendously. And his final plea for the kindness of the Lord to be over us ends this reading with a note of hope. We indeed want God’s glory to be seen by our children and to know that the labor of our hands and hearts will last. Even while feeling God’s wrath, Moses is aware of God’s mercy.

Moses appropriately calls attention to the “life’s too short” conundrum and brings a certain focus to the situation. It begs the question of what you intend to do with this too-short life. Can you answer that today? Life is too short. How are you going to number your days wisely? What changes should you make today to honor your commitment to the Lord before you go? Notice that Moses points out that God is angry when we sin and are disobedient…

The sobering tone of this Psalm is a call to self-examination and reflection. We are reminded to double check our sins and do some spiritual heart surgery where needed. We need to observe the acts of God and look for God’s glory in the midst of our behaviors. The brevity of our existence on earth need not be marred by God’s anger at our sin, especially when the remedy of repentance and forgiveness is so close at hand through Jesus Christ. Life is too short to carry the burden of unconfessed sin. We join Moses’ prayer that God’s kindness would be over us and allow our works to outlive our lives. We can count on God to be kind, even when we have not been.

So in this too-short life, we need to count our days and use them well. In this too-short life, we should seek wisdom and righteousness. Having acknowledged the anger that follows sin, we should strive every day of this too-short life to walk in holiness. Life’s too short for regrets.

What are you doing with your too-short life? Spend it well.

And eat the dessert first!

Come Back to us, Lord by Michelle Robertson

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