Do you ever stop and think about the significance or insignificance of your life? Some people appear to have the time and opportunity to consider their legacy. For the vast majority of us, though, our lives are often so full of activities that we rarely stop and reflect too deeply about the significance of the choices we are making and their impact upon other people around us. However, due to the recent Covid-19 virus pandemic many people have had to make significant adjustments to the way they were living.
For a number it meant they had much more time on their hands to think and to talk with close family members or to reflect on their own about the direction of their lives going forward. There is no doubt our society and many of us as members will be permanently changed by our recent experiences. Although it is easy to focus on what we may have lost, there are also things we have gained, both individually and collectively. However, like Job in his crisis situation, we in the midst of a virus pandemic have a chance to look at the question raised in Job chapter seven. What tentative or preliminary conclusions did Job reach?
1. The futility of life (Job 7:1-5)
Job’s immediate context was bad enough to make any one of us feel tempted to sink into deep despair. The language he uses to articulate his frustration, pictures a workman longing for his shift to end because he has lost interest in the work being done; or as a soldier wanting his term of service completed so he can return home to his family. But when he does get home his mind is so active he cannot sleep and in a state of over-tiredness he feels so weary. However, he is not at home but sitting outside on waste ground looking a right mess with sores and scabs (Job 7:5). We all have wake up calls about priorities of what really matters in life. The question is this – am I open to think seriously about what my life should be like in terms of my priorities? Do I give too much time to trivialities and neglect things that are much more important – like my relationships with close family members or supremely my relationship with God?
2. The brevity of life (Job 7:6-10) Our time in this life passes alarmingly quickly. ‘My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope. 7 Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; (Job 7:6-7a) When you start in Primary School and someone tells you how long you will spend in schools before you have the choice to leave it will inevitably seem like an eternity! The young adult leaving school excited about the possibilities of employment and earning a salary can think they have years to enjoy life. But how quickly the years go by; Henry Twells (1823-1900) wrote this poem, attached to a clock case in the North Transept of Chester Cathedral in England:
When as a child I laughed and wept,
When as a youth I waxed more bold,
When I became a full grown man,
When older still I daily grew,
Soon I shall find, in passing on,
O Christ! wilt Thou have saved me then?
No-one on their deathbed has ever wished they had spent some extra hours in the office, but too many have regretted not sorting our broken relationships with family members or fractured friendships; others had always planned to get their lives sorted out with God, but never got round to it. Now is the time, now is the opportunity. Seize the moment and do what needs to be done and end your life in the future having lived without regrets.
3. Addressing our biggest questions (Job 7:11-21)
What is mankind that You make so much of them, that You give them so much attention… (Job 7:17).
Psalm 8 in the Old Testament addresses the same question, but from a standpoint of praise to God for the wonder of His creation and of the place of humanity within it. Job chapter seven looks at the same subject from a much darker starting point. Job is feeling as if God had abandoned him. Or that God was punishing him for some unknown sin. The ‘why am I here’ question was understood in this moment as – is there any point me being here much longer? My life is pointless.
Of course Job will come though this difficult time, because we know how the story ends. But he needed to take the necessary time to adjust to his ‘new normal’. We too have taken time to come to terms with our lock down restrictions. But are there other things or relationships with other people to which we ought to turn our attention? One thing we can never recover when lost is our time. It is gone forever. Take time to ask God to direct your mind today so that your choices in the coming months and years are ones that are pleasing to Him.
Our song for reflection today is: ‘Will your anchor hold in the storms of life’