A Solemn Thought
James Smith, 1865
"Are not my days few?" Job 10:20
Thus the afflicted patriarch appealed to the Lord, when he sought a mitigation of his sufferings, and relief from his fears. 'Are not my days few? Then pity me, spare me, and send me relief!' Reader, let us take home the inquiry to ourselves. It may awaken some profitable thoughts, and excite some useful emotions. You may be living as if you thought that your days would be many. Living in sin and in folly, and neglecting your everlasting concerns. You may be rising early and sitting up late to amass wealth. You may be indulging in late hours in bed, or spending much of your time in carnal gratifications. You may be planning and scheming, and working and acting — as if you were to live here forever, or were at least sure of many years to come. Years! why we are not sure of months, weeks, days, hours, nay minutes! At the best — our days will be few!
If our days are but few — let us be careful to fill them up, having some useful and profitable employment for every hour. Let us employ them for the best of purposes, even to secure the salvation of our souls, and a great and glorious reward when the Lord Jesus shall come to reward every man according to his works.
Let there be time for prayer. For prayer in private. For prayer in the family. For prayer with the church of God. Let us never neglect meetings for prayer. They are of great importance, and properly attended to, must be profitable.
Let there be time for praise. How much cause we have to praise God. How many things we have to praise God for. Our life. Our health. Our food. Our clothing. Our homes. Our bibles. Our sanctuaries. Our civil and religious liberty. A good hope, if we are believers. But time would fail me to enumerate particulars. Surely we ought then to have time for praise. Set times for praise. Seasons set apart on purpose to praise God. Times to go alone — that we may praise our God for His innumerable mercies conferred upon us.
Let there be time for reading. Especially for reading God's Word. The soul needs to be fed. Truth is the food of the mind. As we always find time to feed our bodies — let us not starve our souls. Many can find time for three or four meals a day for the body — but they cannot find time seriously and slowly to read one chapter in the day to feed the soul.
Let there be time for meditation. By reading we take in spiritual sustenance; by meditation we digest it. Reading without meditation, does us but little good. We can meditate as we go to and from our employment, and very often when engaged in it. We need lose no time for it, nor injure anyone by it.
Let there be time to do good to others. One object that God has in view in continuing us in this world, is that we may be of use to those about us. There should be time to call on the sick. To visit the bereaved. To speak a kind word to the widow and the fatherless. To render financial assistance to those in need, according as God has prospered us. Many would have more — if they gave away more. God would entrust us with more — if we had a heart to do good with it. Money is given us — to be divided between ourselves, our friends, our needy neighbors, and God's cause.
Let us try and do a little good every day. If we only dry one tear, soothe one sorrowful heart, comfort one troubled spirit — it is something, and something worth living for too.
If my days are few — then I shall not need much of this world's baubles. However much I may have — I can only enjoy a certain amount. However much I may have — I must soon leave it. Let me not, then, crave much of this world's good. A little with God's blessing — a little with a contented mind — a little with a heart to do good with it, is better than great riches without. Enjoyment and contentment do not consist in the quantity that we possess, or even its quality — but on the state of the heart. If the heart is right, a good measure of comfort is certain.
If my days are few — then it is comparatively of little consequence what men say of me, or think about me — if conscience and God approve. Men may asperse my character, misrepresent my conduct, and suppose me to be influenced by wrong motives; but if my days are few, if God approves of me — what will it matter in a few years what men have said about me? Happy is the man who when so treated can say, "My witness is in heaven, and my record is on high."
If my days are few — then my trials will soon be over, my troubles will soon end, and my conflicts will soon cease. Let it, then, be my constant care to bear my trials patiently, to endure my troubles meekly, and to pass through my conflicts courageously.
If my days are few, then time will soon end with me, eternity will soon open upon me — and I shall soon know what heaven — or hell, is! How solemn!
In a few days — I may be in heaven! I may see the Lamb in the midst of the throne. I may be joining with the triumphing multitude in the presence of God. I may be absolutely certain that I am safe, and safe forever. I may be filled with all the fullness of God.
But in a few days — I may be in hell! In hell? Yes, in hell! In unquenchable fire! In everlasting burnings! In unutterable torments! The sport of devils. The companion of lost souls. Under the blighting, blasting, and withering curse of God. Hell! Who can tell what hell is? Who can describe its tortures, its horrors, its terrific scenes?
Are not my days few? Yes! Then I must soon be in heaven — or hell. My last day will soon be here. It was never so near as now. But am I ready for it? Should I rejoice if tomorrow were my last? If six o'clock tonight terminated my last day, and I knew it, would it make me feel happy? Or would it awaken fear? Or would it fill me with alarm?
Reader, your days are few. They may be very few, much fewer than you have calculated on. Suppose they should end! Suppose the decree had gone forth from the eternal throne, "Tomorrow you shall die!" and you were to be informed of it by some angelic messenger who heard it pronounced — how would you feel? How? Where would you be for eternity? What would you do? Do! I can scarcely tell what you would do. But I know what you ought to do, and to do now. That is, seek and make sure of an interest in the Lord Jesus Christ. To be washed in His precious blood, to be clothed in His glorious righteousness, and to be sanctified by His most Holy Spirit. Let me most affectionately beseech you not to pass another night without bowing the knee and surrendering the heart to God, that so when your few days are past, you may be eternally happy. Flee, flee to Jesus, and trust in His precious blood.
"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom!" Psalm 90:12