The brevity of life ∙
6 All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever. – Isaiah 40:6-8
15 Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
16 The wind blows, and we are gone – as though we had never been here.
17 But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear him.
Each person is born with a built-in expiration date for their time on earth. None of us know when that is. But passing off this mortal coil is a certainty. Through the years we encounter constant reminders of the brevity of life. As we grow older, we lose friends and family. Things around us change. We change.
No matter how long we live, compared with all of eternity, life is brief. If you searched for an example from nature of the fleeting, ephemeral lifespan of something, what more fitting example would there be than grass and flowers of the field. “Quickly grown and quickly withered, it is blown this way and that by every wind” (Oswalt).
Isaiah 40:6 Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field.
But Isaiah does not end with that. Rather, Isaiah sees a parallel between the brevity of life which characterizes grass and flowers, and people.
Isaiah 40:7 The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the LORD. And so it is with people.
“Each of us is here for a brief sojourn” (Albert Einstein).
In juxtaposition to the brevity of people’s lives on planet Earth, the Word of God lasts forever. Human transience is set in stark contrast to the permanence of the Father and the Word of God. Regardless of the present circumstances, that which the Father has promised in His word will surely come to pass.
Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.
There are only two things on the planet Earth that are eternal: the Word of God and the human soul.
The love of the Father for His children never changes. It is constant. It is certain. He can always be trusted. The Father is the one enduring reality in a constantly changing world, and He designed it so (Geoffrey W. Grogan).
With confidence and certain expectation, we know we can always depend on our unchanging Father. A relationship with Him is the source of great joy and fulfillment.
“No faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs through adversity. Tested faith brings experience. You would never have believed your own weakness had you not needed to pass through trials. And you would never have known God’s strength had His strength not been needed to carry you through” (Spurgeon).
Such insights often stimulate reflection. Frequently we ask the big questions. What is constant and certain? What really matters? What lasts? Many reevaluate their priorities.
REFLECT & PRAY
Life is brief. When we are young, we think we will live forever, but when we are old, we know better.
Father thank You that You treat me with understanding and compassion. Encourage me to immerse myself in Your eternal goodness and loyal love.
Psalms 103:15 Our days on earth are like grass; like a flower of the field, we bloom and die.
It is sobering to realize that life passes by all too quickly. David never gives into despondency or resignation. Instead, he is joyful and expectant. Is David in denial? Absolutely not. He is learned through his walk with the Father to take the high road. The view from above provides the foundation of David’s outlook and overwhelming joy.
What does David see? He recognizes and understands the antithesis between the Father’s everlasting goodness and loyal love and human evanescent transience and vulnerability. How does the Father respond to human frailty and weakness? He is well aware of our fragility and propensity for failure. He is the One who formed us from dust. As dust, a more pleasant and acceptable word for dirt, we are very short-lived like flowers and grass which dries up, blows away without leaving a trace.
The Father’s intimate knowledge of people evokes a kind and gentle response. Our weakness appeals to the Father’s compassion (Expositors). The Father responds to us with pity. He knows what we are, that we are frail and needy.
Psalms 103:13 The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate
David sees as the Father sees. Rather than the brevity of life causing despair or dread, David worships the Father and sings praises of joy. David does not focus on human limitations. Rather David immerses himself in the truth and reality of the Father’s eternal goodness and loyal love. David celebrates his intimate relationship with the Father and the Father’s loyal love for him.
Too often we forget what God remembers – that we are dust (MacDonald). Joy, contentment, and happiness are a choice. Each of us has been given that choice. Over time, and learning from his many mistakes, David has discovered how to make the right choice.
“When we fully understand the brevity of life, its fleeting joys, and unavoidable pains; when we accept the facts that all men and women are approaching an inevitable doom: the consciousness of it should make us more kindly and considerate of each other. . .. It should bring a closer kinship, a better understanding, and a deeper sympathy for the wayfarers who must live a common life and die a common death” (Clarence Darrow).
“As it turns out, most grumpy old people used to be grumpy young people. Aging doesn’t turn a cheerful person into a grouch. To the contrary, research has shown that, as we age, we become more emotionally stable and content” (Laura Carstensen).
Grimace or gratitude, the choice is ours.