March 27, 2019
By Jim Daniels
Psalm 49 (NIV):
10 For all can see that the wise die,
that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
leaving their wealth to others. …
20 People who have wealth but lack understanding
are like the beasts that perish.
Read the full psalm.
As a hospice chaplain, I have the honor of walking with people as they live out their final months. If we are fortunate, we get to talk about what is most important to them. All patients have wanted to talk about their families—whether still living or deceased. And though I have met some very wealthy people, I have never once heard them talking about the wealth they had accumulated as what was important to them at the end of their lives.
Psalm 49 discusses how wealth cannot purchase a person’s life or buy an escape from decay, but that it is God alone who can—and will—redeem a life from the grave. This Lenten season is one of walking toward the cross with Christ, and I, for one, use it as a time to contemplate the end of my life. I attempt to reorient my thoughts and actions in a way that allows me to die as a person with understanding—a person who relies upon God for redemption.
On the first day of Lent, the ashes are imposed, and I am reminded that I am dust and to dust I shall return. It begins a time of remembering what is important and what is passing. I am reminded to trust in God for redemption, and not for some act or accumulation of wealth or status. I am marked by the reminder that I follow the path of all flesh.
This does not bring me sorrow now as it used to. I now count each day as part of my riches, and my understanding expands with each day of gratitude. As we walk this Lenten path toward the cross, let us pray for understanding.