Monday, June 21, 2010

By Reason of Strength

My Aunt Anna passed away last Sunday at the ripe old age of 96. Below is her Eulogy that I delivered. It is kind of long for a blog post.

Family (6)

By Reason of Strength

Psalm 90:10

10The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

This text is just a portion of a psalm written by Moses making it one of the oldest psalms. It was probably written in connection with Israel’s failure to possess the Promised Land the first time.

The people (except for Joshua and Caleb) refused to follow Moses and to trust God. Instead of entering the land by faith, had not their experience with God opening red seas been enough, sadly no, they turned back in unbelief, and for this God judged them. He made the nation wander for forty years in the wilderness until all the people who had been over twenty years of age at the time of this lack of faith sin died.

This psalm is also a comparison if you will of the eternal God and finite man. Over and over Moses reminds us of just how transitory life is. 1000 years is as day to God, like grass that came up yesterday and today withers. He tells his hearers that their time has been shortened because of sin and calls upon God for mercy. Moses implores us to spend our limited time here on earth seeking the wisdom to please God. And in this psalm Moses shares with us a secret. Keep listening and I’ll share it with you.

10The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

Threescore and ten is 70 and fourscore is 80. So at best the text says that we can expect to live 70 maybe 80 years.

I wonder how long do you want to live?  70, 80 , 90 How long?

Your answer may depend on the type of life you are living right now. A life lived well no matter the length 70, 80 or even 90 years is always too short, and a life lived badly can be painfully long.

I have personally known 7 of my family members who have lived over 90 years; 4 of them are alive; My father, Anna’s brother and their 3 cousins. Now some would say that that means I have longevity in my family lineage; that it is in the gene pool and that may well be true. But what about all the other members of my family who did not live so long not even to 50 let alone 70? I don’t think it’s in the genes alone I think rather that the reason my family is blessed to have so many people who live well into their 90s and by well I mean good enjoyable lives, is because of strength.

In an age when so many are pursuing the fountain of youth Lifting weights in the gym or taking all kinds vitamins or in a diet, Moses tells us that the secret to a longer life is strength.

I don’t know about you but I too would like to live well, good and enjoying life well into my 90s. And I too have spent time in a gym lifting weights and I take vitamins and the dieting, well not so much and I don’t know if any of these will work. But I know that what the word of God says is true, by reason of strength. Therefore I think that strength is something to be obtained, something to be sought after.

During one of the summers spent at Aunt Ann’s, my cousin, brother and I were playing cards and I needed to step away from the table for a moment and as I was walking away I called back to my brother and cousin “Don’t mess with my cards”. Why- did I- say that? Oh my goodness, I heard a scream from the kitchen because my misuse of the English language had offended my Aunt. Needless to say I spent the rest of that vacation taking English lessons each morning with my Aunt; learning that the correct phrase should have been “Please (that was my first mistake I didn’t say please) Please don’t bother my cards”. Therefore I hope to do my Aunt proud; I learned the value of a dictionary and additional study time. I said I learned the value of a dictionary and additional study time.

So while in preparation for this message, I went to my dictionary and found out that strength had several synonyms; power, force, and might and they suggest the capacity to do something. Family (52)

Power is capacity to do work and to act. Force is the exercise of that power: One has the power to do something. Might is power or strength in a great or overwhelming degree.

And I found that one definition of Strength is the inherent capacity to manifest energy, to endure, and to resist. So keep that in mind as we look at this text.

As I continued to study the text I looked up the passage in the Hebrew because sometimes what the original writer intended gets lost in the translation. I found that there are 2 different Hebrew words translated into English as the word strength. And they don’t mean the same thing in Hebrew.

The first time we see strength in the phrase by “reason of strength”; its definition is more like what our current day understanding of strength is but not completely, but I’ll say more on that later.

The second time we see strength in the text “yet is their strength labour and sorrow” it didn’t mean power, force or might; it meant pretentious pride or arrogance.

So if I were to more fully translate this passage of scripture it would say 10The days of our years are 70; and if by reason of force, power or might by the inherent capacity to manifest energy, to endure, and to resist they be 80 years, yet because of our pretentious pride or arrogance we have just made our lives hard work and full of sorrow; and because of that it will soon be cut off and fly away like a bird.

Can I go back to the first strength, by reason of strength your years can be 80; by reason of force, power or might that strength; what it is the source of such strength.

· Where does the capacity to manifest energy come from when you have run the last mile, given your all?

· Where does the ability to endure hardship, suffering and pain come from?

· How do you live through tough economic times and I’m not talking about now, I’m talking about the great depression.

· How do you resist giving up on a relationship that is going through turmoil, giving up on a child; or a hope or dream that has been delayed? Family (15)

· How do you endure the ups and downs of life?

You rely on the strength of others, your community of friends and you rely on family. And you must rely on the true source of all strength, the power, force and might of Our All Sufficient God.

It is by God’s power that we live and breathe and have our being. It is with His ability we endure. I simply could not imagine living without God’s help; without being able to rely on His guidance and now in this time of sorrow to not have His comfort.

Long after the guests have gone home and sympathy calls have all been made God’s comfort will give you the strength. I have experience that God will comfort the brokenhearted. That God will send someone in your life to mother you in Auntie’s place. The tears will fall but they are bottled, caught by God and are so precious to Him. Be comforted to know that your mom is with the source of her strength.

Auntie Ann lived such a long life because she was strong, by reason of strength. One of the ways we gain physical strength is by lifting weights And we can take some examples from Auntie Ann’s life. She was strong because she lifted her voice in praise to our God. Auntie gained strength as she lifted her concerns in prayer. She gained more strength as she lifted her hands to serve others as unto the Lord.

By reason of strength she lived a long life filled with love, love for her parents, her sisters and brother. A life filled with the love a good man. By reason of strength she lived a life filled with the love of her children.

So how long do you want to live? You can live your years badly or you can tap into the source of Auntie Ann’s strength by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and look to Him for the ability to live long and live well. Jesus said that I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.

Moses spoke another secret about longevity and that is to Honor your Mother and Father that your days may be LONG upon the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee. Cousins remember the things she taught you and continue to honor her memory.

To my father Family (2)  and also my cousins I pray that the peace which comes from the memories of love shared will comfort you now and in the days ahead. Love never dies, it can be killed but it never dies. I will continue to pray God’s strength for us all. May God hold you tightly in His Hand.


I will miss you Auntie.

Love Pam