Growing old certainly has its upside. Yes, I have chronic pain. And when I go to the store I have to use shopping carts as walkers. Yes, I’m declining physically and getting uglier by the day. And, yes, I’m discovering that one never stops being a parent no matter how old one gets.
But I’ll gladly take all those burdens with the tradeoff old age brings. For with old age comes far more certainly about God’s love and faithfulness. I’ve now got a storehouse of memories of how God came through for me and my family. I’ve got a treasure chest of memories of how He delivered us from death and saved us from all our fears. So there’s always a ton of things to thank God for and to inspire faith for the present crisis. Yes, giving thanks to God is like opening a treasure chest to view the long-forgotten jewels inside.
With old age comes resolution for a lot of personal issues, like poor self-esteem, feelings of guilt, and fears of failure. As Christian believers get older they better understand God’s love. They realize that as they yearn to have their children and grandchildren run into their arms, so God yearns for them and delights in them. Older Christian believers begin to see that God doesn’t value them based on their performance, productivity, or potential. They are already engineering marvels and artistic masterpieces whom God has custom-designed to His own specifications. God Himself has chosen their gender, colors, body shape, voice quality, attributes, and every component of their personality. And, to a great extent, they already bear His image.
With old age one makes another wonderful discovery. You learn about people and what makes them tick. It dawns on you that all people – regardless of their education level, wealth, and fame – are as vulnerable to pride, prejudice, and peer pressure as anyone. Highly educated people can fake research, twist facts, and make assertions to gain funding for projects, notoriety from the press, and praise from their peers. It’s good to know this. Otherwise, you might take their endless doomsday predictions too seriously.
And, speaking of doomsday predictions, I recently read an article entitled, “Wrong Again: 50 Years of Failed Ecopocalyptic Predictions.” It documents, with actual news articles and graphs, how scientists, politicians, and NASA officials have wrongly predicted the end of our world over the last fifty years. For instance, did you know that climatologists in the 1970s were seriously predicting a new ice age that would bring widespread famine and starvation? They based their gloomy forecast on a cooling trend that began in the early 1940s. By the late 1970s America was ravaged by some of the most fearsome snow storms which brought major cities to a standstill. I remember getting trapped at work for an entire week during a blizzard in 1978. Yes, there was no doubt about it. The world was headed for another ice age. Of course, the 1980s brought warmer temperatures and before long we got hooked on the theme of “global warming.”
It’s interesting to note that the hottest decade in recorded American history was the 1930s. During 1934, for instance, summer temperatures consistently rose above 110 degrees (F). These conditions were accompanied by drought and massive dust storms. But gears shifted quickly in the 1940s. And before long the experts began predicting an ice age.
But when a Christian believer gets old, he or she begins to see the cycles and trends in society (e.g. Psalm 37:1-40). They’ve learned too many faith lessons to get riled by the latest alarm some expert raises. It’s not that old people don’t care about the future of the world. They’re very concerned for their children’s and grandchildren’s sake. It’s just that they’ve learned to trust in the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He always seems to raise up the right people to make advancements in medicine, to create new technologies, and to bless humanity. And, honestly, if God sustains the life of every organism on this planet – even the microscopic ones, isn’t it likely that He’s caring for us as well (Matthew 6:25-34)?
No, I’d never want to go back in time and relive a single moment. I’d never want to trade the hard lessons I’ve learned to go back to the days of physical strength, prowess, and pleasure. Youth was fine, but it was filled with too many false illusions which caused significant pain. Now my focus is on preparing for Christ’s judgment seat and using all my resources to serve Him (2 Corinthians 5:9-10).
PRAYER: Dear Father in heaven, please continue the good work You began in us all. Purify our hearts, our character, and our motives. Put a hunger and thirst for righteousness in our hearts and make us zealous to please You and prepare for eternity. Amen.