In our imagination, it may be challenging to conceive of living for several centuries. Methuselah, whose life is described in the book of Genesis, lived for 969 years – a timespan we can hardly fathom. Yet even he could not escape fate: death, the inevitable end of every life.
Let’s envision a conversation between Methuselah and a friend: “We live – for how long? 800, 900 years, and then we become history. What are 800 or 900 years compared to eternity?” (Genesis 5) This lament about the apparent brevity of life is timeless.
Job, a man confronted with immeasurable suffering, expressed his longing for rest in death in Job 7:1–11. He lamented the heaviness of life, full of sorrow and pain, and yet, he perceived it as short and fleeting. A paradox we often encounter – even in the midst of tragedies.
“The life of mortals is like forced labor, their days like those of a hired laborer. Like a slave longing for the evening shadows, or a hired laborer waiting to be paid, so I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me. When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’ The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn. My body is clothed with worms and scabs, my skin is broken and festering. My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope. Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again. The eye that now sees me will see me no longer; you will look for me, but I will be no more. As a cloud vanishes and is gone, so one who goes down to the grave does not return. He will never come to his house again; his place will know him no more. Therefore, I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.” (Job 7:1-11)
In a poignant article, an Adventist shares her struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts. Ironically, she laments that the life-extending Adventist lifestyle makes little sense when life is marked by suffering. In such moments, reason often disappears, and we are left alone with our pain and fear of hopelessness.
Even Job, who knew the promise of resurrection (Job 19:25), couldn’t overlook the transience of life in the darkness of suffering: “Remember that my life is but a breath, and my eyes will never again see good.” (Job 7:7) The proximity of death intensified his lament about the brevity of life.
How can we find solace amid these laments about life’s transience? Our perspective on the fall, death, and the promise of resurrection can help us contextualize the limitations of this earthly existence. By holding onto the hope of eternal life in Christ, we gain comfort and meaning that extends beyond the apparent shortness of this life.
In our collective reflection on the transience of life, we come before you, who holds times in your hands. We think of Job’s lament and the timeless question of the meaning and duration of our earthly existence.
In moments of sorrow and suffering, when life seems short and fleeting, we seek your comfort. Let us view the perspective of the fall, death, and the promise of resurrection in the light of your love.
Help us embrace the transience of life with hope and serenity. May the certainty of eternal life in Christ fill our hearts and reveal the meaning behind the limitations of this earthly existence.
In our search for comfort and meaning in the weaving of life, we cling to the hope of eternal life. In gratitude for your love and faithfulness, we pray. Amen.
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