Tuesday, January 23, 2018
O Lord, what are human beings that you regard them,
or mortals that you think of them?
They are like a breath;
their days are like a passing shadow.
We woke up this morning to news that an 8.0 earthquake had occurred along the British Columbia and Alaska coastlines. A tsunami warning was issued for those in low-lying coastal areas with klaxons sounding and police moving through neighbourhoods urging evacuation. There are no reports of an actual tsunami but this must be a chilling experience for those in the projected path. It wasn't that many years ago when tsunamis devastated Japan and areas of Southeast Asia.
The majority of us live as though life will have a trajectory which will continue through lengthy seasons of existence from birth to death in old age. Yet circumstances can change in a moment. Last week there were false alarm warnings in both Hawaii and Japan that intercontinental ballistic missiles were headed in their direction. Even though these were errors, people on these islands are aware of the threat from North Korea and many were traumatized, including Canadian tourists visiting Hawaii. People phoned loved ones to say goodbye, assuming that the worst was coming.
We do get these jolts from time to time reminding us that our lives are but a breath, as the psalmist suggests. We may get a difficult medical diagnosis, or word that a loved one had died suddenly for any number of reasons. We ask why, and as a pastor I came to realize that there are no ready answers.
We can choose not to live in constant anxiety about impending doom, or the sobering reality that we will all die eventually. Instead we can live with purpose and enter prayerfully into each day we have been given. I have been blessed to walk through the valley of the shadow of death with those who were genuinely hopeful and at peace despite the knowledge that their days in this life were limited. Often they had a quiet confidence that there was something more, a glimpse of eternity.