For we have been consumed by Your anger and by Your wrath we have been dismayed. You have placed our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence. For all our days have declined in Your fury; We have finished our years like a sigh. As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years; yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away....So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90: 7-12
I have been a nurse for nearly 30 years. One statistic I repeatedly share with people is that 10 out of 10 people die. I have never seen this statistic altered in spite of advanced health care technology, new medicines, brilliant doctors and researchers, detox diets, and wrinkle creams. People die-with or without wrinkles. People die young, old and every age in-between. People die with billions of dollars in their bank accounts or barely enough money to be buried. Good, bad, righteous and evil, all people die.
I realize my life goal is to convey hope, and I am fairly confident that most of you reading this do not feel very hopeful. But as I read this psalm, I am struck by the message it speaks to me-Life is brief, but our biggest problem is not how brief life is, but the sin in our life.
Why does this psalm address sin? Because sin shortens our life. Repeatedly, God instructs us to live clean, pure, and righteous, so that our days will be lengthened. Do righteous people die young? Yes. But, we also know that God is sovereign, and the number of our days belong to him. So, what is our response to be? Do we fight to live longer by believing in the power of modern-day medicine and anti-aging miracles? Do we continue to slather billions of dollars worth of wrinkle cream on our faces and necks to deny the fact we are aging and are going to die? Do we live with integrity and wisdom ignoring the use of advanced technology and wrinkle creams? Or can we do both?
I believe integrity and wrinkle cream can abide together, along with the use of modern technology. The difference in our life success and longevity, however, will be determined by our focus. This psalm exhorts us to grasp the brevity of life, so that we will live this life with wisdom. J. I. Packer writes:
Be wholly committed to Christ’s service each day. Don’t touch sin with a barge-pole. Keep short accounts with God. Think of each hour as God’s gift to you, to make the most and best of. Plan your life, budgeting for 70 years (Psalm 90:10), and understanding that if your time proves shorter, it will not be unfair deprivation but rapid promotion. Never let the good, or the not-so-good, crowd out the best, and cheerfully forgo what is not the best for the sake of what is. Live in the present; gratefully enjoy its pleasures and work through its pain with God, knowing that both the pleasures and the pains are steps on the journey home. Open all your life to the Lord Jesus and spend time consciously in his company, basking in and responding to his love. Say to yourself often that every day is one day nearer. Remember that, as George Whitefield said, man is immortal until his work is done (though God alone defines the work), and get on with what you know to be God’s task for you here and now.
We cannot minimize the impact of sin in our life. God does not. Live with integrity. Live for Christ. Psalm 90 ends in verse 17 by stating, "Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and confirm for us the work of our hands; yes, confirm the work of our hands." You see, God provided this life for us to bring glory to Him through our work. Sin distorts His glory and shortens our life. I have decided to live for Christ regardless of the number of days ordained, and I will do this with the aid of wrinkle cream and modern day technology. When I die, it will not matter the state of my skin or my health, but my soul. Today, in wisdom, seek the forgiveness Christ has to offer and live with integrity, in sickness or in health, and with or without wrinkles.
Today, Father, teach me how to wisely invest the life You ordained. There is a difference between spending and investing. Teach me how to invest into eternal purposes. And like Jonathan Edwards proclaims, "Stamp eternity on my eyeballs!"