Do you ever think about the vanity of life? I mean the extreme brevity of it all. When I was a little kid I always used to groan at the idea of having to wait a whole year for something. A year seamed like such a long time. But as you get older, and I don’t mean to claim too much wisdom, time seems to move more quickly. Or maybe time doesn’t move more quickly, you just realize that time, in general, isn’t as long as it seems.
When you think about how short a person’s life really is, eighty, ninety years, it’s almost frighteningly short. If you’re a fundamentalist, we’ve been around eight or nine thousand years. If you’re into the science thing, it’s more like millions of years. Think about money, if you had a million dollars, you wouldn’t give so much regard to how you used five or ten dollars here or there. But if you only had eighty dollars, you’d sweat every time you had to spend a buck. But that’s our lives. Eighty years, and we’re spent.
Solomon got it; all of life is vanity. Short. Fleeting. We have little or no control over it. It was written about it Psalm 91. “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10). It’s perplexing how little normal people actually consider thoughts like these. I mean, even without any kind of spirituality, it still might be among the most glaring philosophical challenges. One day we aren’t. The next day we are. The next day we aren’t again. It’s twisted really.
Earlier this afternoon I was doing some research for a blog network I’m starting up called Under the Sun. I searched to see whether the domain name was available, but found that it wasn’t. What I found instead was a webspace occupied by Sharon Hundt. About nine years ago, Sharon lost her son Greg, at age 17, to cancer. He’d fought hard against the illness for three years before his body finally gave in during surgery to remove a tumor. Therapeutically, Sharon decided to construct a website for her family and in the remembrance of Greg. You can read through stories and thoughts and memories at underthesun.com. I’m sure that Sharon would be glad to know that in some way people were still finding ways to meet her son.
Reading Sharon’s grief, and in some ways sharing in the experience of losing her son, it has reminded me that our lives aren’t guaranteed to us. It’s a wonder that we’re born in the first place, let alone continue to live day by day. The story of Greg’s fight and death, even at a young age, has reminded me of the vanity of life. The only decisions that I can be sure of are the ones that are made right now. I cannot be sure of next year, next month, even ten minutes from now. So in light of that, I agree with the author of Hebrews in saying that a certain day has been fixed, “Today.” (Hebrews 4:7).