Because of God’s mercies that are new every morning, and because we are His children, we are growing in our inner selves younger – growing to look more and more like the true children of God even while our outer selves are growing older. Such is the grand and glorious paradox of Christian aging. What does that mean for us? It means that as Christians, we do not have to chase the ever-elusive promise of youth. We do not have to fix our eyes on the vanity of the physical. It means that we can still steward our bodies, but we can not have our entire self-worth and value rest on them.
I recently went to a yearly checkup, and the doc (who looked to be about 16, in my estimation) was explaining to me the results of my blood work, blood pressure, weight, and the rest of it, led her explanation with these words: “When you reach a certain age…”
I knew what she was saying. Blood work aside, I’ve got an ache in my left leg, and I don’t know exactly how it got there. But it’s there, and even when I’m typing these words, it’s kind of throbbing down my side. Stuff like this happens to me from time to time; it’s not a big deal, but it does happen, and it reminds me that I am indeed aging. We all are. The law of entropy which tells us that natural processes only run in one direction – that is in a degrading direction – is applicable to our physical bodies. We are deteriorating creatures.
And yet for the Christian, there is a glorious paradox that comes in aging – one that causes a great measure of joy when you could feel an increasingly measure of sorrow that you cannot do the things that you were once able to do. Here is how Paul would frame this paradox:
Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
There’s no pulling punches here, but rather an embracing of two simultaneous realities for the Christian.
The first reality is that of aging. That our outer person, our physical bodies, are on the downhill.