The Uncertainty of Life

The Uncertainty of Life

We glide along the tides of time as swiftly as a racing river and vanish as quickly as a dream.
–Psalm 90:5 TLB

In Psalm 90, Moses reminded us that compared to eternity, our lives on this earth are brief. Not only that, but they are also filled with uncertainty. In verse 5, Moses said, “You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; in the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew.” I like the way The Living Bible paraphrases verse 5: “We glide along the tides of time as swiftly as a racing river and vanish as quickly as a dream.”

Years ago, when I was a youth minister, I took a group of teenagers to Colorado. One of the group activities was rafting down the Colorado River. If you have ever been on a raft trip, you know it can last for hours. There are periods on that raft trip when everything is tranquil and serene, and you are relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Then without warning, you hit the rapids and suddenly find out you are not in control–the currents are controlling you. You cannot do anything with your raft except try to avoid hitting the rocks or capsizing. In Psalm 90, Moses was saying our lives are like that.

There are moments in life that are wonderful, great, and tranquil. You think, “It does not get any better than this.” Then suddenly, you are overtaken by circumstances. You hit the rapids. Out of nowhere comes the loss of a job or a bad report from the doctor, and you realize you are not in control of your circumstances. All you can do is try to keep from capsizing. That is why James wrote some great words to consider as you finish up your New Year’s resolutions: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’ But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil” (James 4:13-16).

Do not misunderstand what James was saying. He was not against making plans. In fact, the book of Proverbs is filled with counsel for us to make plans. There is nothing wrong with making plans for the coming year. Just remember that your plans ultimately depend on the sovereign will of God. What we should say is this: “Lord, this is what I am planning to do, if it is in Your will. But You are the One who controls every part of my life, including whether I get to stay here on earth another year or not.” We ought to make our plans fully realizing that ultimately God is in control.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “It’s About Time” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. Scripture quotations marked TLB are taken from The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, IL 60188.