The Power of Terminal Thinking (Psalm 39:4)

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As we look forward to the New Year with plans and resolutions, the voices of godly men from the past encourage us to think about something we prefer to ignore – our own death.

Thomas à Kempis (1379-1471) wrote, “Happy is he that always hath the hour of his death before his eyes and daily prepareth himself to die.” And Francois Fénelon (1651-1715) wrote, “We cannot too greatly deplore the blindness of men who do not want to think of death, and who turn away from an inevitable thing which we could be happy to think of often. Death only troubles carnal people.

These men were not referring to a depressing preoccupation with dying, but a dynamic approach to living. We, like the psalmist David, should pray: “Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am…. Certainly every man at his best state is but a vapor” (Psalm 39:4-5). David speaks of people who work in vain, heaping up wealth with no idea of who will get it (v. 6). He concludes by affirming that his hope is in God, who alone can keep him from a life of spiritual rebellion and disaster (vv. 7-8).

As we place our hope in God, the brevity of our life on earth is worth considering – every day. – David McCasland

Lord, we know that our life on this earth is so short compared to eternity. Bless us, fill us, use us to tell of Your love and goodness as much we can and for as long as we can until we see You. Amen

Considering the certainty of death can provide a dynamic approach to life.

  • December 31, Vol. 20, Our Daily Bread
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