“I am not happy, and life is short, so I need to go after this one chance at happiness,” he said, explaining why he was about to do something that was obviously wrong and stupid; that is, obvious to everyone but himself.
“Yes,” said his friend, “life is short, so whatever it is you are going through, you have to do what is right and put up with it just a little longer. Life is short, remember? The misery will soon come to an end. Stay on the good path and in a little while, when this life is over, you will hear the Lord say to you, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ But if you get on the wrong path you will, in a little while after this short life, hear the Lord say to you, “Depart from me.’ And you don’t want that, my friend.”
I Peter 1:24-25a — People are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.
Amos 5:14 — Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you.
Matthew 25:21 — His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant!… Come and share your Master’s happiness.”
Matthew 25:41 — Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’
Psalm 90:10-11a — 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. If only we knew the power of your anger!
James 4:13-17 — Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
Dear Lord Jesus, mercifully keep me from every act which may deprive me of the sight of you as soon as my trial time in this life is over, or mar the fullness of my joy when the end of days shall come. Amen.
–William Gladstone (1809-1898), Prime Minister of Great Britain (adapted)
Lord, take my hand and lead me
upon life’s way;
direct, protect, and feed me
from day to day.
Without your grace and favor
I go astray,
so take my hand, O Savior,
and lead the way.
–Verse one of a hymn by Julie von Hausmann (1826-1901)
Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You turn people back to dust,
saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
4 A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.
5 Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
they are like the new grass of the morning:
6 In the morning it springs up new,
but by evening it is dry and withered.
7 We are consumed by your anger
and terrified by your indignation.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a moan.
10 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.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger!
Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
12 Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
13 Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.
17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.