What a week this has been. With the floods in Iowa, people battening down the hatches here in Missouri, the horrible, sadly fatal onslaught of tornadoes, and now an earthquake in Japan — thankfully less disastrous than the one in China, but still costing at least two lives — it can certainly feel like the world is coming apart at the seams. Of course, the world will eventually do just that, and these events should motivate us to look to God, our only true Rock.
But this afternoon what hit me most personally was the death of reporter and Meet the Press anchor Tim Russert at 58, apparently of a heart attack while at work.
While he was a couple of decades older than I am, at the same time it has taken me aback, and really gotten me to thinking today. As I mentioned on our local church website this evening, I look at the scattered piles of stuff on my desk — half-finished projects to be addressed, half-read books to be finished, half-written letters to be completed — I am reminded that the vast amount of things that I have “yet to do” is no guarantee that I will actually get to do them. Mr. Russert’s death has brought to mind a passage from Psalm 39:4-6,
LORD, make me to know my end,
And what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am.
Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah
Surely every man walks about like a shadow;
Surely they busy themselves in vain;
He heaps up riches,
And does not know who will gather them.
A similar “vapor” passage in Psalm 62 comes to mind, also–from verse 9:
Surely men of low degree are a vapor,
Men of high degree are a lie;
If they are weighed on the scales,
They are altogether lighter than vapor.
These poetic passages express a vital truth, and it is a perspective that we all need to grasp. Yet, it doesn’t have to be a depressing truth… As both Psalms explain, there is an Anchor for us, a Rock that is so much more than a vapor:
And now, Lord, what do I wait for?
My hope is in You.
My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah
Though God may be increasingly mocked and doubted in this world (as prophesied: 2 Timothy 3:1-2, 2 Peter 3:3-4, Jude 17-18), only He can provide the sure Rock when all the world quakes, the sure promise of life when death lies all around, and the sure hope of purpose when all else seems meaningless.
I know today’s event must be a sad and tragically unexpected blow for Tim Russert’s family, and that tonight is a much darker night than they anticipated when they awoke this morning. And I hope for their comfort. It is my understanding that Mr. Russert’s family was very important to him, and I take that as a sign that they will find much comfort in each other.
Anyway, it was not my intention to be depressing tonight, and I hope I am not. But it is good that we take some time on occasion to get some perspective — to be reminded of how temporary all we see around us truly is, so that we may focus all the more on how wonderfully and eternally permanent God is. And, thus, to be reminded that it is in Him, and only in Him, that we find our own wonderful and eternal permanence.