Maybe the long-suffering of a broken body is God’s means of weaning us from this world long enough for us to yearn for heaven. On the other hand, maybe God’s mercy in accelerating the aging process itself is in order to hold back prolonged suffering. It’s not something many of us think about, but the Bible is clear that the questions of life and death belong to the Lord. He alone determines the number of our days, and as I have had to remind myself many times over the last month, He alone is in control. Sometimes I have had to trust God when life convinced me that He wasn’t in control. I don’t mean to sound pious. I had no other choice. Praise God!

In my mother’s case, I find that I’ve had to remind myself that neither growing old nor the need for God’s provision and comfort at this time is uncharted territory. The stress of decisions and doctors in the last month has reminded me of this “age-old” predicament (no pun intended). I notice that even the Psalmist cried out:

“Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent. – Psalm 71:9

If ever there was a need to not be forsaken, it is in our golden years…when our abilities and energy have been exhausted, when the years of caring and giving to your children or spouse have been poured out to the last ounce over a lifetime. You would only hope that there would be someone to care for you as well. It is no wonder people say that that they don’t ever want to get too old. Being forsaken these days can mean ignored call buttons and nurses that never look you in the eye when you are in pain. It can mean going through your latter days without your spouse or family.

Notice the folks at a nursing home if you get a chance. I have, and I’ve seen some weathered and beaten faces. I realized that I was looking at the manifestation of not only the reality of aging, but of humanity itself. When we are young, we feel invincible, but the truth will come up from behind you. Man in his nature is in decline. We don’t get better or stronger…eventually these bones that hold our bodies up will bend from the weight. Old age seems so far away, but believe it or not, even if your body has never complained, it will one day remind you that you are made of destructible matter that will crumble. The range of motion we take for granted now may be a struggle in the not too distant future. The ability to enjoy and understand the words we read and write will diminish. Our faces will grow sullen and dry, our eyes will get shallow. Aging is mortality at its most blatant.

So is this what it’s come to?

If you know the creation story, you know that it didn’t have to happen this way. When God created man, He created him perfectly. Adam and Eve lived in unhindered fellowship with God. His only command to them was not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If they did, the consequence would be death, both spiritual and physical. (Gen. 2:15-17). Of course, they rebelled and did it anyway…and boy, do we see the consequences! We could have lived forever in youthfulness and glory if they would not have disobeyed God from the beginning.
Adam and Eve could have left well enough alone, but noooo…they just HAD to know all about the tree of good and evil. They just HAD to think they knew better than God. But I can’t blame them. I’ve got plenty of sin and blame in my own life…the mirror just confirms that. *Sigh*

At any rate, I think we can all agree. Worst. Decision. Ever.

So as I think of mortality, I can’t help but think of so many who have persevered for months, even years in the role of caregiver. The impact of a loved one’s need in the later stages of life charges into your own, knocking down your neatly arranged calendar like a bulldozer to a stack of blocks. The physical work of caring is perpetual, and should I say – downright demanding. No doubt, I have a new respect for them now. I think of my father, who has tirelessly and selflessly given of himself for my mother every day. I think about certain friends who have set their lives aside to care for their own elderly parents and the courage they have shown me in doing so. It makes me stop to wonder whether the purpose of being aged is just as much about changing and growing the caregiver as it is about the aged themselves.
Most of all, I acknowledge God’s provision. Listen to the words of the Psalmist again in that same passage:

“But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and Your salvation all the day. For I do not know their limits. I will go into the strength of the Lord God; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.” – Psalm 71:14-16.

God never promised that He would take away our suffering, but He has promised not to forsake His own. So to all of you self-sacrificing caregivers, I am not worthy to untie your shoes. For all of your back-breaking, sleep deprived days, I pray that God brings you through them as if to carry you. The rest of the story is that what was lost with Adam is reclaimed at the Cross. There is a better “someday” ahead, a day when He will be the ultimate physician, when He will take the plight of sin away completely, a day of no more pain, no more tears, and no more death.

12 thoughts on “WHAT I THINK OF OLD AGE

  1. “Maybe the long-suffering of a broken body is God’s means of weaning us from this world long enough for us to yearn for heaven.” Yes! What a lovely way to think about aging.:) Jane

  2. Pingback: God’s Promise For You Today 3/24/2013 | The Promise Book

  3. Beautiful! The Lord loves His Children; I look forward to day I will see my Loved ones again in Perfection! Most of all Seeing Jesus and having Him, My Mom , Grandma, Grandpa welcome me into Heaven!! For Then This will Only be the Beginning of our Spirits Living Forever With Our Creator, Our Savior !

  4. If I was God, and Adam and Eve had sinned, I would have just fixed it so that they couldn’t reproduce, and so damn all of the rest of humanity. Then I would have created a second couple – lets call them Michael and Ruth. And let them learn from example what happens to horrible,sinful people like Adam and Eve – they die! That way you don’t have to punish all of Creation for the sin of one little couple. And don’t have to punish all of humanity and damn billions of people to a lake of eternal fire. You just start over with a fresh couple! See how easy?

    • Dear Philly Professor,

      Please excuse my delay in responding. My mother passed away a few weeks ago and I have been busy with family matters. In regards to your comment, I don’t know everything, esp. not the mind of God and I can’t answer all the questions we as humans may have. However, I can only tell you what God’s word does say about redemption.

      – It’s funny that you would mention “starting over”, because in a sense, God did “start over” by allowing Christ to take the sins of mankind upon Himself. The Bible calls Christ the “new Adam”.

      “And so it is written, the first man Adam became a living being. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. The first man was of the earth, made of dust, the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.” (1 Corinth. 15: 45-49).

      – Because Christ lived a sinless life on Earth and because He is the Son of God, He is the perfect substitute. Rather than damning Adam and Eve, He gives/gave everyone (including them) a chance to accept His free and gracious gift or eternal life through Christ. In fact, God does make a new (spiritual) creation out of anyone who believes in Him.

      “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinth. 5:17)

      Jesus referred to this new life when He spoke to Nicodemus about being born again, a spiritual transformation produced within someone who trusts in Christ, making him a child of God. (John 3:3)

      Christ took on God’s wrath at the cross. He is our “second chance”, God would not be just if He did not punish and judge sin and rebellion. Yet, His grace and mercy is shown in that He did not spare His own Son.

      “For as through the one man’s disobedience that many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19)

      It is because of Christ that we know that my mother has eternal life in glory with the Lord. We grieve, but not as though we have no hope. He gives us that hope through His resurrection and redemption.

      May God bless you and draw your further to Him.

  5. Here’s a verse I discovered (that goes along with the Corinthians verse quoted above…light affliction and all). It reads, “This mortality shall be swallowed up by life.” What a picture that is, eh? We think we’re *living* now…we ain’t seen nothin’ yet!


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