Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You return man to dust, and say, “Return, O children of man!”
For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.
You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.
For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed.
You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.
For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil.
Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! Psalm 90 (ESV)
If we look at our lives and at who we are in the light of today and of today’s temporary circumstances, we are truly creatures to be pitied. The apostle Paul said as much when he wrote to the Corinthians, (1 Corinthians 15:12-24) that if Jesus were not raised from the dead then we have absolutely no hope. Might as well eat, drink, be merry and take advantage of this life as much as we can, because if the life and resurrection of Christ is not true, what’s the point?
It is telling that the Psalmist says, “the years of our life are seventy or perhaps eighty by reason of strength.” Even with modern medicine it is still uncommon for human beings to live more than eighty years, and to live to advanced age without major health issues is even more uncommon. As much as human beings try, we still have not found a way to conquer mortality.
The good news is that the Gospel is true. We have the confidence and the assurance that God is in control of the world, of our lives, of the circumstances around us. We will go through trials. We will get ill. We will face persecution for what we believe, even in historically “Christian” countries. Even though we are guaranteed to suffer in this life, God provides for us. We live in Him. Our shelters here on earth are temporary at best, but God is our permanent home.
Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Wisdom is mentioned many times in Scripture. In Proverbs 9:10 we learn, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
All of us are tempted to buy in to the age old fallacy best illustrated in William Ernst Henley’s poem Invictus– that we are the masters of our fates, the captains of our souls. Scripture teaches exactly the opposite, that God is the potter and we are the clay. We are creatures, rather than the Creator.
It is wise to remember that the sin of the Garden began with the tempter asking Eve,
“Did God actually say…” and followed up with the lie that in eating the fruit, “you will be like God.” (Genesis 3) C.S. Lewis claimed that pride (wanting to be in the place of God) is at the root of all sin. We all struggle with wanting my will instead of thy will, truth be told.
When we make the mistake of putting ourselves in the place of God (and every single human being alive does this…) we forget our place. We forfeit the comfort and peace of knowing that God has our lives in the palm of His hand. We don’t have to have all the answers. We don’t have to have it all together. God does.
Lord, help us to ask you for Your wisdom as we remember that this world is not our forever home, but that You are. Give us the faith to cling tightly to You, the strength to serve You, and Your love to share with those around us. Have mercy on this tired world and the scared people who are living in it, until You return again.