The reality of the transience of our physiological time can be quite unnerving. None of us is guaranteed longevity. It is bestowed upon us by the Lord in His sovereignty, mercy and wisdom. Unfortunately, old age is often a phase of life that is characterized by gerascophobia-the fear of aging. Most people perceive this phase with nagging apprehension due to the wear and tear of our physiological makeup. The fragility of our existence is intensified by stiff joints, unyielding muscles and telltale memory lapses, which make the impending sting of mortality even more certain. Fervently we attempt to delay progression to this trepidatious destination by clinging to outward beauty, vibrant health, and youthful strength using, diet, technology and whatever else.
The neurosis attached to aging has grabbed the attention of bio-medical professionals who have responded by focusing on three main research orientations – compressed morbidity, decelerated aging, and arrested aging – in an attempt to add quality to biological life. Compressed morbidity is an attempt to forestall or prevent age-related chronic diseases using molecular processes. Compressed morbidity focuses on increasing life expectancy and endeavoring to create societies with less sickly and more active old people. Decelerated aging seeks to slow down the progression of aging. Arrested aging aims at restoring the vivacity of the functions of the human body through the removal of the inevitable physiological damage caused by myriad metabolic processes. Maybe science will one day realize all the three paradigms and make them efficacious standard procedures…for a while. However, ultimately, “it is appointed unto men once to die…” (Hebrews 9:27).
But we can draw strength and peace from the fact that God who created each one of us according to His plan will carry us through the changing seasons of our lives. In nature, God demonstrates to us that just as each season has its beauty, and purpose so there is beauty and purpose in every phase of our lives. Even with declining strength, decreased opportunities and abilities to function well God still has a purpose for each aging and aged individual. Sarah was 90 and Abraham was 100 when the messengers of God predicted they would have a son named Isaac. The following year Sarah gave birth to Isaac!!! At the age of 80 Moses was given the monumental task of freeing Israel from Egyptian bondage spanning over four centuries, and leading them to the Promised Land! Aaron became high priest when he was over 83 years old. John Wesley preached over 40,000 sermons during his lifetime! At age 86 he complained that his doctor only allowed him to preach 14 sermons a week! At 88 he was still preaching, just a few days before his death. At age 75 Nelson Mandela became the oldest elected president of South Africa, shattering the iron-grip of apartheid forever. Science may add a few years and vitality to life, but only God can make a life positively change the course of earth’s history forever…even in old age. Listen to what He says about old age: “Even to your old age, I am He; And even to gray hairs I will carry you…” (Isaiah 46:4).
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