The beginning of a New Year often reminds us of how quickly time passes. In fact, for some of us, it seems we’ve hardly had time to put away last year’s Christmas decorations before it’s time to take them out again.
But this isn’t true for those who are young. Once the current Christmas season is over, it can feel like an eternity before it comes around again.
However, with age comes the realization of how short life really is and how time waits for no one. As a matter of fact, Scripture gives a vivid description of how quickly our time here on earth passes. It’s described as a vapor (James 4:14); as withering grass (1 Peter 1:24); as a passing shadow (Psalm 144:4); and as a breath of air (Job 7:7).
And because life is so short, it makes sense to want to make our lives count for something, but how? As usual, we find the answers in scripture — through David in Psalm 39. And although David has quite a bit to say about life in this Psalm, his main point is that our lives must be lived for the Lord to have any meaning at all.
So how do believers apply living for the Lord to their lives? As we’ve learned in the past, God doesn’t just tell us something and then leave us in a lurch to figure it out on our own. On the contrary. God gives us the answers and the steps to take — and he did it through David.
First, David realized that his hope is in the Lord (Psalm 39:7). He didn’t put his hope in his loved ones, his career, his money, or the world. Scripture teaches that all those things quickly pass away and are perishable (Matthew 6:19-21, 25-26; 1 Timothy 6:18-19; James 4:13-14). In fact, placing any kind of hope in worldly ideas or possessions is to set ourselves up for disappointment and dissatisfaction.
Second, David realized that he needed holiness (Psalm 39:1-3, 8) or rather, an internal goodness that could only come from the Lord. He needed holiness with the words he spoke (Ephesians 4:29) and with his outward behavior towards others (Mark 7:21-23). Although Jesus taught that we should all hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6), few believers take this to heart. This is probably because it’s often accompanied by trials — something God sometimes uses to help us learn to imitate Jesus (James 1:2-4).
Third, David realized that he needed to submit to God’s discipline (Psalm 39:9-13). Although David asked for God to remove the trial he was undergoing, he also knew God had every right to discipline him because God’s discipline promotes growth. This same truth applies to us as well. It’s through trials where we have the opportunity to examine and test whether our true motives and desires are helping or hindering our spiritual development (James 1:2-4; Hebrews 12:7-11).
So in light of David’s prayer, we too can ask ourselves (1) do we place our hope in the Lord (2) do we hunger and thirst for God’s goodness (3) and do we submit to God’s discipline?
Psalm 39 has shown us that life is fragile, delicate and brief. But regardless of how much time God has given to each of us on this earth, every believer should make a point to live each day for him.
And for the believer, that’s what gives life meaning.
Donna Hughey is an award-winning Christian author and columnist. She lives in Crescent City.