In today’s culture, every woman is supposed to be a 21st century Rosie the Riveter proclaiming, “We can do it!” We are constantly told that we’re enough, that we’re strong, that we’re even unstoppable. The other day I read a post from someone whose mother just passed away. She focused a lot on being strong and finally said, “My strength is my strength.” Can someone tell me what that even means? Is it ok for women to shed tears in public or is that turning your back on the ‘sisterhood’?
Meanwhile, our Bibles sit on our shelves, pregnant with culturally dissonant truth. If only we would read it. If only we would take it to heart. Didn’t Paul tell us in Romans 12 to be transformed by the renewal of our minds? Why the mind? Because we’re constantly being lied to. And didn’t Jeremiah tell us that our hearts are “hopelessly dark and deceitful” (MSG)? Following such a fickle organ will certainly lead us astray.
We would do well to pick up those Bibles and remind ourselves of the nature of man.
We are dust. “Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground…” Genesis 2:7 Contrary to popular belief, we are not self-generating beings. We have a source, and that is God. No matter how hard we work out, no matter how many anti-aging products we use, we can’t stop the inevitable. Our joints will deteriorate, our skin will sag and wrinkle and we will return to the dust from which we came.
We are grass. “A voice was saying, ‘Cry out!’ Another said, ‘What should I cry out?’ ‘All humanity is grass, and all its goodness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on them; indeed the people are grass.'” Isaiah 40:6-7 Take to heart what the prophet is saying here. How long does grass last? We kill ourselves on earth trying to increase our name recognition all the while forgetting that we will be forgotten a short time after we die. Do you remember your great-grandparents? Do you even know their names? All but the most ardent genealogists do. And have you heard of transhumanism? It says we can use technology to combat aging and “eliminate various existential risks to the human species.” Really?
We are mist. “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14 The other day I went running near my neighborhood. There was an unusual haze or mist in the air. But 30 minutes later? It was completely gone. We like to make plans and set goals for months and years from now. I plan to run a marathon in November. But why do we think we’ll be here even 30 minutes from now? We may prepare ourselves and work hard for those goals and dreams, but do we prepare ourselves to stand before the Ever Living One? “…it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment…” Hebrews 9:27
We are dust, grass and mist. We need to constantly remind ourselves of these truths in order to drown out the messages of the culture. But if we stopped there we’d certainly sink into a pit of despair. So let’s also focus on the rest of the story for those who are in Christ.
We are dust and one day these earthly bodies will decay back to the dust. But on the last day, we will be raised and receive a glorified body, one that is like the Lord Jesus. “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:50-53
We are grass and hardly anyone will remember us years after we’re gone. But if we are in Christ, God will never forget us. “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” Isaiah 49:15-16
Yes, we are a mist and all our hopes, dreams and goals for this life are tenuous at best. But if we know Him, we can lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven and one day we will receive a guaranteed inheritance that is imperishable and unfading. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19-20 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…” 1 Peter 1:3-4
This past week a good friend of mine received a distressing medical diagnosis which only added to other conditions that have caused her years of chronic pain. If she listened to the culture, she would hear voices telling her to focus on her strength and not give in. But as a Christian, she is able to make a different choice. She can face her weakness and suffering with raw honesty and see in it an opportunity. That opportunity is given to her by Christ who also embraced weakness for us and made it a gateway to greater strength. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
The world says deny your weakness and proclaim your strength. Christ says to embrace your weakness and find all your strength in him. Dust, grass and mist. This world was never our home but it is full of reminders that we were made for so much more.