Posts Tagged ‘futility’
“Each man’s life is but a breath.
Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro:
He bustles about, but only in vain;
he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.
But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you.” Psalm 39:5-7
At first glance, this verse doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with hope. Its bleak outlook on life seems more despairing than hopeful. But that’s why I love this verse so much. It shows how powerful hope that’s born from despair is. When I say despair, I don’t mean despair over a tragic circumstance like the death of a loved one. When I use despair in this sense, I’m talking about despair over the human condition that we’re all born into. The writer of this Psalm takes an honest look at his life and realizes how difficult it is to really do anything of real meaning. Most of what we do is running after money, or bustling about to take care of our own needs. Very little of what we do will ever have an eternal impact.
Before we come to a place of healthy despair over the human condition, we’re very susceptible to false hopes. We say “if only I had that career,” or “if only I could afford that house, then I’d be happy.” But we don’t realize that none of that has an eternal significance. But once we come to the hard conclusion that none of the things that society tells us will make us happy will actually make us happy or bring us satisfaction, only then are we ready to say: “Now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” Sometimes it takes a drastic event like a midlife crisis to make us realize this truth. Other times, God graciously allows us to realize it sooner. I just love the raw honesty of the Psalm. Though it’s a bleak and somewhat despairing outlook on life as a whole, it ends with hope. And hope that’s born from despair is so much stronger than all the false hopes that society tries to entangle us in.