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  • Jeremy Whiteley

Numbering our days

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12)

Psalm 90 is often read at a Remembrance Day service. For me it has a particular significance as it was read at my Dad’s funeral 3 years ago. It was really quite sobering. As Moses speaks in the Psalm of his experience of a generation passing away, I realised the reality of not just a life, but for me a generation passing away. The people I had known from my Dad’s generation had almost all gone. Only one was left who was able to attend the service of remembrance.

Living through the current COVID crisis brings back the sense of my mortality. As the daily numbers of deaths is relentlessly broadcast by the media, for me it evokes some of the words of Psalm 90:

“Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death – they are like the new grass of the morning: In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered”. (verse 5,6)

“Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass and we fly away”. (verse 10)

There’s nothing comforting in the news. It leaves me with a yearning for something more – something lasting, something I can rely on. And Moses the psalmist also expresses this when he says “Relent, LORD! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days”. (verse 13,14)

One person described our situation by saying that in every one of us there is a God-shaped void that only God can fill. “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love.” We need more than just man-made solutions.

So why doesn’t God do something? As we feel the uncertainty all around us and yearn for something more, why doesn’t He do something? The answer is that He has done something. Something that deals not just with COVID, but first and foremost with our heart problem. He did what only He could do. He made a way for our sin to be forgiven and for us to know God in a real and personal way.

The Psalm describes the eternal God - “from everlasting to everlasting” (verse 2). This God entered our world as a man. Jesus became one of us – He came on our side as it were – and ultimately died for our sins, in our place. Not as a tragedy, but as the only way that we could be forgiven and put right with God.

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love”. In our uncertain days we can know God and actually be satisfied with His love – it’s enough, it’s what we really need. Through life and into eternity we can be confident if we’ve trusted in Jesus.

But we’re also called to reflect. “Teach us to number our days”. Life doesn’t go on for ever. It’s all too short. So Moses exhorts us all to take stock, to put life right with God, to make use of the days that we have. What will happen once the COVID situation is over? For many there will be ongoing problems, particularly if we’ve lost a job, or a business, or far worse someone we love. But many people will just want to return to life as it was, as if life will just carry on for ever. Let’s make sure that’s not us – let’s use this crisis for something good, something that lasts, and heed the exhortation we’re all given:

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®

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