The Brevity of Life
by Rev Greg Obong-Oshotse 10 July 2020
Text: James 4:14b
“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”
Many remember the popular idiom, “Procrastination is the thief of time,” but not its author, Edward Young (1681- 1765), rector of Welwyn, Hertfordshire. He was a son of the Manse, his father having being rector of Upham and Dean of Salisbury. In four years, Edward lost three family members: his step daughter, her husband and his own wife. He plumbed the depths of grief’s gloom to write his immortal nine-part poem, Night Thoughts, in which he paints a haunting outline of the brevity of life:
Why all this toil for triumphs of an hour?
What though we wade in wealth, or soar in fame;
Earth’s highest station ends in ‘Here he lies’
And ‘dust to dust’ concludes her noblest song.
Of course, alongside a host of other Bible verses that speak to humanity’s brief earthly pilgrimage, he would have read the poignant words of James, What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Life on earth is short, vanishes like vapour, withers like grass, and fades and falls away like flowers. It has to be deeply comforting that we are not allowed to tarry here too long with all the gross evils that pervade this world. It also ought to be a chief reason to consider carefully where we shall spend eternity.
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