The art of growing old gracefully has been lost.
The man in the radio commercial begins, “I’m 78 years old and began to notice that I was slowing down … I went to see doctor so-and-so and now I’m feeling years younger again. I’m a much better father to my children and a much better husband to my wife.”
We accept the lie that life is about the here-and-now. Nothing – especially our bodies – should ever change. We despise growing older. When did it become wrong to feel your age? When did we begin to believe that we should be “forever young”? Why do we think it’s dishonorable to age?
King Solomon, the wisest man to live, wrote in Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 about the effects of growing old. We are meant to age as part of our existence, it’s normal, must be expected, and God has a purpose in it.
First, Solomon writes that aging is a call to remember your Creator in the days of your youth (Ecc 12:1). Seeing people age gives us reason to consider eternity. Yet our Peter Pan society lifts this, Botoxes that, and slathers and devours products to end the signs and effects of aging. Our youth is deceptively ever before us and so God is pushed off for another day.
Second, old age calls us to realize the “meaninglessness” of life apart from God (Ecc 12:8-14). The golden years are the opportunity to remember how God has made the difference in every arena of life. His promises are for this world, but more so the life to come. The days of our lives are seventy years, and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow, for it is soon cut off and we fly away (Psalm 90:10).
Third, growing older helps ground us in the eternal. Modern America is the most materialistic society in the history of man. We live, act, and believe that this world is the end and end-all. For the Christian, growing older should be embraced as a blessing of the hope we have in Jesus that this life isn’t all that is. Bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come (1 Timothy 4:8).