Life is Like a Vapor
“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.” (Psalms 39:5)
By inspiration, James repeats these same sentiments, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’ But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:13-17).
Life is like a vapor because it is brief. God is called “the Ancient of Days” (Daniel 7:9,13,22) because He is eternally old and He will never die. In contrast, life for us on this earth lasts only a few years (Psalms 90:10). Ask any of our senior citizens how quickly the years and decades seem to pass, and then life on earth is over.
Life is like a vapor because it is fragile. A vapor is just a wisp of moisture. You can put your hand right through it. You cannot set it on the table and expect it to hold something up. It has a relatively low mass. Such is life. Some young people think they are invincible, but often learn the hard lesson that they are not.
Life is like a vapor because it is here and gone and quickly forgotten. Even the most famous characters of our history receive little regard from us each day, with the likely exception of Jesus. Our lives are consumed with the things of the moment and the troubles of the day to spend all of our time thinking about those who are gone. The desire to be remembered by the generations to come is not bad, but we should recognize that a legacy of faith and virtue is more valuable than a legacy of fame and fortune.
What should we learn from vanishing vapor? We need to have regard for the things that are of eternal significance. We have this life for such a short time. Only what is done for Christ will be regarded for our eternal reward.
We must also be seeking the Lord’s will for each and every day. You have probably heard someone say, “See you later, Lord willing!” It is good to be reminded that we have very little control over tomorrow’s events. We need to trust in the Lord for His help to accomplish His will in this world. After all, we cannot know what tomorrow will bring, but He knows. We cannot even guarantee that we will be on this earth tomorrow, so we had better be doing His will today, with a heart that is ready to love and serve Him every day that He grants to us through His grace and mercy.