“Though we are outwardly wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”
2 Corinthians 4:16
Aging is, to put it bluntly, the process of progressive deterioration of the body and loss of abilities and qualities. Hearing fades, eyesight dims, muscles lose strength, flexibility decreases, joints creak, energy wanes and the mind slows.
Many of these losses are more than physical, for they are also the loss of what has made us feel good about ourselves, of what gave us a sense of worth, importance and the ability to accomplish. Therefore the process of aging can be doubly devastating as things physical, mental and emotional are taken from us.
Looking at this from a different perspective, however, aging is an opportunity for a deepened life. It should force us to reexamine the values we have adopted, especially on an emotional level. As our ability to perform is taken from us by these losses, it is an opportunity to further turn our attention towards enduring values and truths.
It is an opportunity to affirm that our worth actually does not depend on our accomplishment but upon two unchangeable facts: as human beings we are made in the image of God and as believers we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. In addition, our significance does not come from what we can do with our bodies and minds, but from being given important and vital roles in God’s overall plan for the universe: praise, prayer, persistence in doing what we know to be right and propagation of the gospel.
These can be carried out in old age even better than in our youth as we have had time to develop a character that reflects Christ. When we age to the point where we can do nothing else but exist, Christ’s kindness, love and grace can still shine out of our lives as we continually offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving (Ps. 50:23).
In addition to worth, our sense of satisfaction does not need to come mainly from physical strength or mental ability or accomplishments. It should come primarily from the unending and unfathomable truth that we, as believers, belong to God.
He is carrying us through each stage of life, onward to a timeless and perfect relationship with Him in a sinless and overwhelmingly wonderful setting. “…our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor. 4:16,17).
Aging, then, becomes an opportunity to further shift our focus away from the passing things of earth to a deeper and timeless mindset as seen in Psalm 72:25, “Whom have I in heaven but you and earth has nothing I desire besides you.” This leads us to thinking Truth rather than half-truths, thinking eternally rather than temporally. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18).
Aging is also a further chance to understand Paul’s statement, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). My increasing lack of competence in the natural realm is a platform upon which the grace of God can be displayed to all around me. It is an impetus to look forward to what God has for us as we age and can no longer depend on our own abilities!
Old age is the process of losing things; maturity is letting them go, embracing the truth that God has better things for us.
Prayer: “Father, help me to be continually moving from a natural mindset to a supernatural one, praising you in all, seeking to give you glory, seeing you as my all in all, letting go of what I can’t keep, holding on to what I can’t lose, and rising above the losses of life with joy. Amen.”
–From the devotional book EDIFIED!