Forthright Magazine

The honest hourglass: time is running out

Distractions & The Desire To Forget

Billions are spent each year in entertainment and alcohol in order to forget. Even if the illusion lasts for only a few precious moments, there exists a desire to somehow whitewash reality, to forget our responsibilities, our bills, our failures and most of all, to ignore we have a relentless stalker called death who eventually will overcome us.

Death is disturbing for a number of reasons. Even if we overlook the “unknown” nature of death and the searing separation from loved ones, there still remains what appears to be death’s terrible judgment that everything in life is meaningless.

Death seems to strip all meaning from our short time under the sun. The bum and the overachiever, the thug and the policeman, the uneducated and doctors all appear to end up in the same place – the grave. So what was achieved by all of the sweat, talent and moral goodness? From the secular perspective of living under the sun, one is forced to conclude that nothing is achieved; that in the end everything is vanity.

This is the haunting nature of the dark abyss’s laugh, “You are nothing, there is nothing you can do about it. and as the final insult to your humanity, I will swallow you up into nothingness.”

And so the business of creating distractions continues to thrive as people prefer to ignore their own mortality. Although it is not a conspiracy, even our digital watches contribute toward this illusion by insulating and temporarily anesthetizing us against the reality that our life will end. The digital clock seems to give the impression that time, specifically our time, will never end. Month after month an endless stream of numbers continually cycles beneath the crystal as we work and play. This seems to suggest that there will always be another second to claim as our own.

The hourglass, on the other hand, is painfully more honest. For it makes us aware not only of the passage of time, but perhaps even more important, just how much time as already passed and that our time will eventually run out.

This unabashedly frank commentary on human existence reminds me that time is a temporary gift ebbing away, leaving us to stare at the awful nakedness of death face to face.

The Good News

There is, however, good news: The bottomless and insatiable abyss has been defeated! Paul saw the resurrected Lord! And it is this fact which caused him to shout, “We know that the One who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:14). Christ’s victory over death changes everything about living life.

As a result of his conquest over death, to live as a Christian is not meaningless, because for us death does not reign supreme. The Christian neither has to resort to the distractions of entertainment nor to the foolishness of seeking illusions to kill the pain of the restless hourglass. Why? Because the value of life is measured, not in terms of the material and transitory, but in the unseen nature of the eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18). Life can be lived with confidence and faith (2 Corinthians 5:7-8).

What a wonderful gift of peace and hope God has given to us through the resurrection of our Lord! As Paul wrote, “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace which is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15).


Barry Newton
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