Pastor Joshua West
Worship Pastor, Shiloh Community Church
This life is full of distraction. There’s always more to do, more to learn, more to accomplish and more goals to check off our list. Sometimes, the only way we can survive is focusing on one day at a time-one step at a time. I don’t know about you but that’s how I function in times of chaos. I will often try to block out the week ahead and just ask the Lord to show me what I need to do for that day only. My prayer in overwhelming seasons will often sound something like – God, please direct me and show me what I need to do next, right now.
As David cries out to the Lord, he prays, “Oh Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Surely a man goes about as a shadow!” -Psalm 39:4-6a
Why would David ask God to make him know his end?
What a strange, slightly morbid prayer. Why would David ask God to make him know his end? Why would he want to know how fleeting his life is? I mean, don’t we try not to think about the “end” and focus on surviving the now?
The more I look around, the more I realize how our culture is programmed to look at the now. We are taught to do what will make us feel good right now. We are taught not to look ahead at the consequences of our actions, because after all…YOLO, right? Then, I think of how David’s prayer sounds completely opposite from our society’s view. Our generation says “show me the now” and David says “show me the end”.
In the previous chapter, Psalm 38, we can read about where David was in his life. He wasn’t walking through flower gardens or dancing in the sunshine when he asked God to show him the end of his days. Instead, his sin was weighing on him like a heavy burden, too heavy for him to carry (Psalm 38:4). He was groaning and mourning all day, feeble and crushed in Spirit (vs 6-8). On top of his sin, David had fierce enemies who also hated him and were trying to kill him (vs 12, 19). Given the circumstances, I would say that David was in an overwhelming season of chaos.
Yet, in the midst of being so utterly crushed and discouraged, David chooses to ask God, “Let me know how fleeting I am!” (Psalm 39:4). Why would that be one of his prayers of choice in that time?
…prayer was really a desire for the bigger picture.
In essence, I believe David’s prayer was really a desire for the bigger picture. He understood that there was more to life than what was right in front of him at that moment. David believed that “man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow” (Psalm 144:4). He yearned to understand how quickly life passes and he desired to grasp this concept in depth.
As Billy Graham once said, “My home is in Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.”
We are all on a journey to eternity.
We all are. We are all on a journey to eternity. Sometimes, we lose our way. Sometimes, we get distracted or overwhelmed or confused. Sometimes, we can get so absorbed with the things we need to get done or the goals we have created for ourselves on earth that we entirely forget. We forget the Bigger Picture – the picture of today as a single drop in the ocean of eternity.
Suddenly, when we focus on how fleeting we are and how this day is simply a passing shadow in light of where we are going, the biggest problems of today somehow seem a little smaller. The greatest concerns of our heart shrink when we understand why we are so briefly traveling through this earth. So today, I encourage you to take a moment to step back from the things that are filling up your day in order to pray the same prayer David prayed: “Oh Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days (Psalm 39:4)”