The Tragic Sense Of Life
A daily devotion for October 6th
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 The length of our days is seventy years—
or eighty, if we have the strength;
yet their span is but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 Who knows the power of your anger?
For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.
12 Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
13 Relent, O 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 upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.
You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. (Psalm 90:8)
Here the psalmist, in all the honesty of his outlook on life, is facing a reality that many of us try to avoid. He is dealing with what we might call the tragic sense of life: the fact that every moment of enjoyment is tinged with something sorrowful, tragic, or unhappy. There is a bittersweet quality about life, and these psalmists realistically face it. Why do we have these tragedies, irritations, injustices, and catastrophes that strike both innocent and guilty alike?
In years past I succumbed to family pressure and a long-standing interest on my part and bought a small motorboat to use for water skiing, fishing, and other water sports. Of course I couldn't wait to see how the boat would run. I took it down to the Palo Alto boat harbor and launched it in the bay. My wife and youngest daughter were aboard, and we went out for a spin on the bay. But out in the middle of the bay, we ran aground! The motor hit bottom, and before I could lift it up, the shear pin had severed, and there we were, powerless in the middle of the bay. Fortunately I had taken along a couple of paddles that belonged to a little rubber boat we had, but all I had were these little paddles that fit together like a kayak paddle. When I fully realized that we were adrift in the middle of the bay I was a bit concerned, as I didn't know which way the tide was running, and I had read stories in the paper about people who spent the night on the mud flats. The thought crossed my mind,
Is this really fair?
The longer I paddled toward the disappearing shore, the more convinced I was that it was unfair treatment. We finally landed at the only place on the lower western side of the bay where there was a telephone, so we didn't spend the night on the bay. But the situation served to underscore for me the fact that the psalmist is facing here: There is a dark side to life. There come sudden occurrences that cast a cloud over the sunshine. Sometimes they are much more serious than my boat incident. We all know how frequently these things happen. What is the reason for them?
The psalmist says it is because of the wrath of God. Surely this concept of the wrath of God is greatly misunderstood by many people. Many think invariably of some sort of peeved deity who indulges in violent and uncontrolled displays of temper when we human beings do not do what we ought to do. The Bible never deals with the wrath of God that way. According to the Scriptures, the wrath of God is God's moral integrity. When people refuse to yield themselves to God, He creates certain conditions that He has ordained for harm.
The cause of God's wrath, then, is always human sin. The manifestation of God's wrath would never be apparent were it not for the secret sins that are set in the light of God's countenance. God knows our inner sins, our secret inner thoughts. God is aware of these inner defilements of life, and they are all contributing to the tragic sense of life.
Lord, in the midst of the tragedies, irritations, and injustices of life, help me to trust that even in wrath You are merciful.
Life Application: When there are dark and difficult days we sometimes ask - Why me? Are we willing to cooperate with God's disciplines, ever thankful for His mercies?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.