# 152 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 39 When life began!

“Shortly after noon…the doctor told me I had cancer…He stood at the end of my bed…I can still hear his voice as distinctly as if he were speaking to me right now…’We just got the results from your CAT scan. You have a mass…near your stomach. We’re pretty sure it’s malignant’…

My wife and I cried when the doctor left…It takes awhile to realize what life is all about. We don’t ask the hard questions until we have to. That day, I had to. The doctor’s words got me thinking…about what I’m doing here, how I’m supposed to maneuver through life’s unpredictability, what I really want of life, and whether it’s available.

The curtains covering my soul fell back, and I began to see what was happening inside. When that occurred, the battle began. But it’s also when life began.”

These words were written by Larry Crabb in the introduction to his book, “Soul Talk” – The Language God Longs for Us to Speak” (Integrity Publishers 2003).

The psalmist in Psalm 39 had also come to such a place in his life due to his sufferings. He became very conscious of time and just how short and fragile our lives actually are. Listen to the words he uses concerning our lives:

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
even those who seem secure.

“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
    without knowing whose it will finally be…

11 When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin,
you consume their wealth like a moth—
surely everyone is but a breath.

The key words here are the words, Show me.

Lord, show me, give me understanding, “Lord, help me to know how fleeting my time on earth is. Help me to know how limited is my life. And that I’m only here but for a moment more.”  (TPT)

To be honest, most of us would rather not put such a request before God. Too often we are happy to deny such thoughts if they come to us. Too often we fill our short lives with distractions in order to banish such morbidly confronting words from ever reaching our lips. Until something happens! An unwanted diagnosis, a death of a loved one, a tragedy in the life of a friend, loss of a job and security.

Sadly, it seems to take suffering of some sort in our lives to bring us to reality. As Crabb puts it when “the curtains covering my soul fell back, and I began to see what was happening inside.”

But, as negative as this may sound, just maybe this is exactly what we need to see life and God as they really are. For Crabb, he writes, “When that occurred, the battle began. But it’s also when life began.”

For the psalmist, it was at this time, when in his anguish He cried out:

“But now, Lord, what do I look for?
    My hope is in you.
Save me from all my transgressions;
do not make me the scorn of fools.
I was silent; I would not open my mouth,
for you are the one who has done this.
10 Remove your scourge from me;
I am overcome by the blow of your hand.
11 When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin,
you consume their wealth like a moth—
surely everyone is but a breath.

12 Hear my prayer, Lord,
listen to my cry for help;
do not be deaf to my weeping.

In that hospital room, Crabb worked his way through his tumultuous emotions and thoughts, cried out to God, and wrote:

“I don’t like to suffer…But I understood. For a moment it was clear. Life is all about knowing God! It’s all about Him…Knowing Him is what I want more than anything. And knowing the Father is what Jesus makes possible for me!”

And knowing the Father is what Jesus has made possible for you and me through his life, his death and his resurrection.

This is the promise he made: I [Jesus] have come that they [that’s you and me] may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10b)

Father, My hope is in you. Thank you for the life you have gifted to us, no matter how long or short it is. May we be willing to ask the hard questions of ourselves and you and open our hearts to hear your answers and act accordingly. Amen

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