Such a Long Breath It Seems
We read a general theme throughout scripture that our lives are not really that long. Try telling that to someone as they approach 90 or even 80. They may be quick to argue this idea.
Still, we read in Psalm 144:4:
“Humans are like a puff of air; their days go by like a shadow.”
13 Pay attention, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such-and-such a town. We will stay there a year, buying and selling, and making a profit.” 14 You don’t really know about tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for only a short while before it vanishes. 15 Here’s what you ought to say: “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)
A breath really does not seem that long. And yet, it feels like so much happens within this course of time.
There are many good times. How many times do we laugh? How many times do we do something just to have fun? How many times do we enjoy the company of friends? How many times do we cherish those we love?
Usually, we do not have a problem with the good times. How much happens though, in our lives, that quite frankly seems to be anything but good?
How many phone calls do you answer concerning loved ones and friends going to the hospital? How many calls saying that they have died? How many people have you walked with as they approach death and die? How many people do you know that have been “diagnosed” and then journeyed through the “treatment”?
How many people are murdered in our lifetime? How many needless deaths? How many wars? How much violence and hatred?
How much happens in our “brief” life span?
My mind races at times with this question, spending time wondering about things in the past as well as wondering about what might happen next. Things do not seem quite right at times. I appreciate the words of Timothy Keller in The Reason for God, for saying basically, “that is the point”:
Horrendous, inexplicable suffering, though it cannot disprove God, is nonetheless a problem for the believer in the Bible. However, it is perhaps an even greater problem for nonbelievers. C. S. Lewis described how he had originally rejected the idea of God because of the cruelty of life. Then he came to realize that evil was even more problematic for his new atheism. In the end, he realized that suffering provided a better argument for God’s existence than one against it… The nonbeliever in God doesn’t have a good basis for being outraged at injustice, which, as Lewis points out, was the reason for objecting to God in the first place. If you are sure that this natural world is unjust and filled with evil, you are assuming the reality of some extra-natural (or supernatural) standard by which to make your judgment.
It is good to be troubled when we see suffering, death and yes, evil. For then we are reminded, and maybe even know, that there is a good. There is a good beyond our good. There is a reason beyond the reasons we know. There is life. There is love.
God is our refuge and strength,
a help always near in times of great trouble.
2 That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart,
when the mountains crumble into the center of the sea,
3 when its waters roar and rage,
when the mountains shake because of its surging waves.
4 There is a river whose streams gladden God’s city,
the holiest dwelling of the Most High.
5 God is in that city. It will never crumble.
God will help it when morning dawns.
6 Nations roar; kingdoms crumble.
God utters his voice; the earth melts.
7 The Lord of heavenly forces is with us!
The God of Jacob is our place of safety.
8 Come, see the Lord’s deeds,
what devastation he has imposed on the earth—
9 bringing wars to an end in every corner of the world,
breaking the bow and shattering the spear,
burning chariots with fire.
10 “That’s enough! Now know that I am God!
I am exalted among all nations; I am exalted throughout the world!”
11 The Lord of heavenly forces is with us!
The God of Jacob is our place of safety.
(All scripture cited above from Common English Bible Copyright © 2011)