I am lucky to live in Pennsylvania, home to some of the finest fall color displays in the world. This week the weather has been unseasonably warm and the changing of the leaves has been put on hold, but it will come -- I hope. In all of life, hope is not related to your reasoned examination of the facts, but your gut-level perception of your place. Does your relationship with your coworkers and superiors inspire you to be a hopeful employee? Does your place within the loving (we hope) circle of your family and friends allow your heart to feel at home? More importantly, does your faith place you securely in God's hand, so that you have hope in all seasons? I love my Pennsylvania home, but my real residence is in God. Psalm 90 begins:
Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
The psalm goes on to be a good news, bad news affair. The good news is that God is in this human redemption business for the long haul. All of human existence is but a moment to him. The nations; their political leaders and parties, their vast cities and congested highways, their noble football teams and kneeling players, all this is but dust on the scale to God (Isaiah 40:12-15). Like Martin Luther King, God knows where the arc of moral history is going. It is not a long arc to him. God knows that it bends toward justice. But it will take forever in human terms. And yes, the bad news is that God knows that your life, and mine, on this planet will be over in a blink. We won't live to see what we hope for become a reality.
They say that what separates us from the animals is our awareness of our mortality. Some days I may be more human than others. I used to say that I was one yard shy of being six feet under. I may be closer to half that now. Psalm 90 reminds us that praying and struggling with our own mortality can give us wisdom. We dare not shy away from it. Palm 90 invites you to take both a higher perspective on life and a longer view on history. We find hope, not in listening only to the good news, but also in planting our feet firmly in the reality of God's providence.