Lord, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Psalm 39:4
No one will escape those final moments when while young, middle aged, or elderly these bodies of ours begin to lose the capacity to function correctly and support life. Whether it is heart problems, digestive problems, cancers, accidents, or even mental disorders, these frail bodies of ours will someday soon give way. Maybe even today you are seeing these tendencies with your own health.
Now some may ask why be so morbid, and why bring our minds to such things? The answer is for the same reason David cried out to be cognizant of his end and to know the measure of his days. It is to remember that we are frail, that our days are as a handbreadth, that we are nothing before God, and that man in his best state is but a vapor.
There is a grace that comes in knowing our end. Though we do not know the details, to be reminded that our end in this life will be death, and that it could come in a variety of ways and at any time, does not hinder us but calls us out of our slumber. David called to God and asked him to remind him of his end because of the sin in his life. He was seeking wisdom in order that he would not fall that way again, and one of the means of grace that David knew would help him was if God would keep before his mind the limited nature of his days.
This grace of knowing our end can come in many ways. There are the simple little reminders we have such as reading a book in which someone is suffering from an illness and in the end it takes their life, or in more serious ways such as a close family member or friend who is struggling in the same way. But many times the Lord’s own hand will plague us and make our beauties melt away like a moth, as we are consumed by the blow of His hands to wake us from our fantasies which was what was happening to David at this point. The reminders are all around us, life is fleeting, temporary, troubled, and quite simply a vapor, and as His Children, the Lord wants us mindful of that fact so we will not squander it.
If we live life with any other understanding than that we walk about like a shadows which will quickly fade, then we live in a make believe world of our creating. And the result will be that we lose sight of the significant and begin to busy ourselves in vain, trying to heap up for ourselves temporal desires and riches not even knowing who it will be that will gather them.
Ultimately, the only way to combat this vanity is to know the truth of our frailty. According to the measure that we have a grasp upon this, we will have a correlative measure of focus upon living our lives for what ultimately matters. We will be wise to the fact that our time is limited, we will give God the praise for the time we do have and trust Him with the few days we have left. When we are tempted with sin, we will be reminded of the utter foolishness of it, as we know we will soon be on our deathbed and will want our consciences clear. We will also desire to redeem the time for the days are evil, and live all of our moments with the desire to see God Glorified.
This will transform even the most common minutes of our day. It can make scripture our daily companion as we seek its eternal riches, and make prayer an unceasing endeavor as we seek the gracious God who controls and knows the number of our days. It compels us even today to go in to the highways and byways and tell others to come in, since tomorrow is promised to no one. It helps us to realize that all is to be done for the glory of God and not just these privileges we consider sacred. Fathers are to dance with their daughters, mothers to hold their sons close, Husbands honor your wives, wives cherish your husbands. Turn off the TV, say no to some additional unnecessary task. Stop chasing after self-glory and honor for all glory is God’s. And since sin has been the cause of all our vain moments, this knowledge will turn our hope to the Lord who is able to deliver us from our transgressions, and to keep us from being the reproach of the foolish.