When I was young I felt like everything I did and said would make a difference in the world but now I'm not so sure. Reality is making me cynical and it's difficult to imagine growing older as something to look forward to. Instead of expecting the joyful bliss the media makes retirement look like I find myself fearing loneliness and a sense of uselessness. Does everyone go through this as they age or is it just me?
Each year I notice my friendship group growing ever smaller, my family continues changing, needing me less, and no wonder—I'm not as young as I once was. It's difficult to keep up. As I grow older will I have any purpose? Where do I fit in?
Sin's curse results in physical deterioration and eventually death (Genesis 3:16-19). Aging is the accumulation of undergoing physical, emotional, social, and psychological changes throughout life. These changes can bring about loneliness, lack of purpose, guilt, self-pity, loss of friends, and limiting health issues. They become more problematic as we age.
- The fear of aging and ultimately death is taken away by faith in Christ (Hebrews 2:14,15). When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true, “Death has been swallowed up in victory. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54,55 NIV). Without its stinger, death is just an interesting bug.
- Even though we waste away physically, we are being renewed spiritually and moving toward greater and greater Christlikeness. “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:16,17).
- In Scripture, death for the believer is a departure to be with Christ and therefore it is a doorway. It is packing up the tent and going home to the mansion. “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1).
- God has given believers spiritual gifts, the exercise of which brings purpose because every gift has a place in the Church and an important part to play (1 Corinthians 12). Gifts are not withdrawn later in life; therefore God's purpose is for us always to minister in some way.
- Your body is the temple of God's Spirit. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19). Therefore we must treat our bodies with respect and not abuse them. We are stewards of the bodies He has given us.
- Regardless of your age do not face aging with denial. Aging is not a choice but our response to it is. Acceptance is the best response. We are not ready to live until we accept we are going to die.
- Do not adopt the contemporary ageism mindset of our culture, which discriminates against you because you are too young or too old. Recognize that aging means you are “further ahead” in life than those younger. Your greater experience in life can be used to be more effective in life, in ministry, and in mentoring those who are further behind you.
- View aging as a challenge to be met, not a threat to dread. There is no shame in aging.
- Do all you can to stay emotionally and physically healthy with proper diet and exercise.
- Discover and use your spiritual gifts to build God's Church. They are part of His purpose for you.
- Do not isolate yourself. Maintain relationships with people of all ages.
- Understand, anticipate, and plan for the changes that come with aging.