No one wants to suffer. But suffering is a reality of life on earth, and suffering comes in many forms.
When suffering comes we all ask why—Why must this be? How long will it last?
It may be of no immediate comfort, but know this—suffering has a way of grabbing us, of getting our full attention.
For the choir director; for Jeduthun; a psalm by David.
I said, “I will watch my ways so that I do not sin with my tongue. I will bridle my mouth while wicked people are in my presence.”
I remained totally speechless. I kept silent, although it did me no good. While I was deep in thought, my pain grew worse.
My heart burned like a fire flaring up within me. Then I spoke with my tongue:
“Teach me, O Lord, about the end of my life. Teach me about the number of days I have left so that I may know how temporary my life is. Indeed, you have made the length of my days ⌊only⌋ a few inches. My life span is nothing compared to yours. Certainly, everyone alive is like a whisper in the wind. Selah [vss 1-5]
Each person who walks around is like a shadow. They are busy for no reason. They accumulate riches without knowing who will get them.”
And now, Lord, what am I waiting for? My hope is in you!
Rescue me from all my rebellious acts. Do not disgrace me in front of godless fools. I remained speechless. I did not open my mouth because you are the one who has done this.
Remove the sickness you laid upon me. My life is over because you struck me with your hand.
With stern warnings you discipline people for their crimes. Like a moth you eat away at what is dear to them. Certainly, everyone is like a whisper in the wind. Selah [vss 6-11]
Listen to my prayer, O Lord. Open your ear to my cry for help. Do not be deaf to my tears, for I am a foreign resident with you, a stranger like all my ancestors.
Look away from me so that I may smile again before I go away and am no more. [vss 12-13]
(Psalm 39:1-13 GW) [Context– Psalm 39]
Key phrase— Certainly, everyone alive is like a whisper in the wind
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Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions
How does the psalmist begin to describe his situation?
What does he say after the pain grows worse? What does he ask God to teach him?
How is a typical life described? How is this description applied to people and their daily lives?
What is the request at the end of this prayerful psalm? What does he hope for?
Determining the purpose of suffering, whatever kind it is, isn't simple. C.S. Lewis' famous quote gives some insight—
God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
This psalm helps us see it from a different view. Life on this earth is temporary. But life and hope in God are eternal.
No one wants to die, but every one of us will die. Even people who take their own life don't want to die, they've just given up hope.
We all need a living hope beyond the whisper of life on earth. Hope is better than cynicism, fatalism, or nihilism.
It's easy to get caught up in everyday tasks and pursuits, but there's no final, satisfying destination. Yet, when we see how short and fragile life is it humbles us. At least, it ought to humble us.
Real hope is grounded in a relationship of trust in God, the Creator of life. David knew this from experience, even in the darkest of times.
Make it personal...
Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions
Do you ever feel life is futile, almost purposeless?
When you struggle with pain, physical or emotional, how do you cope with it?
How do you view life in general? Have you come to realize how life is precious yet fragile?
Do you take time each day to appreciate the life God gave you?
Would you like a free study guide for your study of Psalms?