In Ecclesiastes 3:18-20 we read that God is testing us. It says, “I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. For what happens to the children 06 ring around2of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.” I can vaguely remember when I was about 6 years old. My older sister and my little brother would often play in a kiddie pool in the yard in the summer. Sometimes we’d continue to play in our swim suits. Dad came out with his new video camera and we played “Ring Around the Rosie.” Did you ever play it? I have some short footage of us playing it. As we twirled around we sang. You can’t hear it in the video because the old movie cameras didn’t have sound in the 1950’s. We’d sing, “Ring-a-round the Rosie, a pocket full of posies, Ashes! Ashes! We all fall down.”

I never thought about those words when I was a kid. There has been interesting discussions about the original source of this little ditty. One writer said, “The rhyme has often been associated with the Great Plague which happened in England in 1665, or with earlier outbreaks of the Black Death in England.” Another writer explains, “A rosy rash… was a symptom of the plague, and posies of herbs were carried as protection and to ward off the smell of the disease. …And ‘all fall down’ was exactly what happened.” It is indeed exactly what happens to us all! All of us die; the fall of man caused the death of all mankind. Neither the king’s horses nor the king’s men could put us back together again. In other words it’s out of our control!

With respect to our mortality (destined to die), God wants us to relate more with the animals than with Him. He is the shepherd, we are His sheep. Ogilvie observes, “The least that this means is that we have to trust God’s deeds since our own are fallible beyond words and our lives too short to see that ultimate justice is done.” Another commentator writes, “Our present existence is a proving ground. It is a test… in the sense of something that demonstrates our true character. One of the purposes of life is to examine and ultimately to reveal our place in the universe and our true relationship to God.” I believe God has allowed death to be man’s lot so that we will learn to see ourselves for who we really are. In some respects, it’s not until we pass this test, i.e., see ourselves as mortal in contrast to God’s immortality that we can ever really come to trust God. The truth of our mortality will either drive us to God or away from Him. We all must answer that exam question for ourselves. No cheating!