Give Us Wisdom In The New Year, Lord!

It is so true; life is short. But it is a gift too. It is a gift so profound that it often takes a lifetime of experience and reflection to understand its true value. Ah, but so many things get in the way. There are so many distractions that pretend to be the meaning and purpose of life, so many roads to be taken, too many of which are nothing more than dead ends. It is the light of our faith that helps us to understand that life’s truest value is known only in a deepening relationship with the One who gives us life and all that is good in it.

Psalm 90 is called “A prayer of Moses, the man of God.” It is in the form of a lament. It recognizes the eternity of God and the all too brief reality of our own lives. “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” (verse 4) This insight comes from the wisdom of humility. It is a recognition that life is a precious thing worthy of our daily attention. Though we are, like the grass, transitory, sprouting in the morning but dry and withered by evening, our lives, unlike the grasses, have an eternal meaning and purpose.

The psalm is a cry for wisdom in the light of the brevity of our lives. We know that we often fail in living our lives as we should. We fail to live into life fully. But, in truth, our days are numbered. Therefore, as Christian believers, aware that our lives are a gift from God, we know that we are called on to “apply our hearts to wisdom.” What is the wisdom we are to learn? It is a proper fear of the Lord that is the sign of wisdom and the source of a good life. The psalmist puts it this way: “We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.” (verses 7-8) Therefore, it is wise to reflect on how our sins cheapen and undermine the priceless gift of our lives. This is wisdom in the most practical of senses. We can do this with courage and honesty, because we know God. We have come to know his love through his generous mercy.

Yes, it is difficult for us to admit our wrongdoings, but it is truly wise to do so. For in doing so, we are given the opportunity to see the error of our ways and to repent of them. But even more wonderful than this; we know that we can trust in God’s great mercy. Because God is love, and because he is everlasting, his forgiveness is also everlasting. We can cry out to God asking him to relent in his righteous anger toward us, because we have seen the power of his compassion in Jesus Christ. In the wisdom of repentance we know that he will, “Satisfy us in the morning with [his] unfailing love, [and that we will be able to] sing for joy and be glad all our days.” (verse 14)

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us–yes, establish the work of our hands.” (verse 17) Help us, Lord, to turn away from all thoughts, words, and deeds that deny the precious gift that you have given us with our lives. Give us the insights and the courage to apply our hearts to wisdom. Though our days here on earth are numbered, we know that you have made us for eternity. We pray that you give us the graces we need to live our daily lives in ways that are worthy of your eternal love. We pray these things in your name, Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.