Most of us act as if we expect to live on Planet Earth forever; let’s not be in denial. Even with bionic or spare parts, our mortal life is winding down. As Christians, we do anticipate totally changed bodies—someday. We recite in the Creed, “I believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen.” At a future point our bodies will be changed similar to Jesus’ body after His resurrection. That’s a really big deal to look forward to—but it’s for later, not now. That’s the good news/bad news.
The facts that follow are selected from a TIME magazine article about aging:
“By and large, the changes [of natural aging] are decremental. Every organ is losing reserve capacity. There’s a decline in ability to recover from physical stresses. Bones take longer to knit, wounds to heal, and infections to clear up. The immune system starts to decline around age 30. White blood cells lose their effectiveness, which makes it harder for the body to stave off illness. Metabolism begins to slow at around age 25. Muscle mass gradually shrinks. Kidneys may lose up to 50 percent of their efficiency between ages 30 and 80.”
Whoa! That doesn’t encourage me! Where’s the good news? Hold on. “Some of the liver’s functions gradually decline. Lungs lose on the average 30 to 50 percent of their maximum breathing capacity between ages 30 and 80. Blood vessels lose elasticity, bone mass begins to drop by about one percent a year after peaking in one’s 30s. The senses flag: taste diminishes, the nose loses keenness of smell, hearing fades, vision begins deteriorating at about 40, and changes occur in the skin. Sweat glands decline in activity, the quality of sleep changes, the brain loses an average of about 20 percent of its weight, and speed of recall and mental performance slows.”
Wow! The above facts apply to all humanity right across the board—every race, every culture, every generation from Adam to the present—everything deteriorates eventually! What dismal news!
How about us who are children of God and indwelt by the Holy Spirit and anticipate eternal life? Yes, we also go through the same deteriorating process that we share with all living creatures. But doesn’t Jesus heal? Yes, but not always and not forever. All healing is temporary. Those whom He healed on earth eventually died. So what’s our unique outlook? “Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 5:16).
That’s the good news! An “outer man” our “earth suit” is not all there is to the Christian. We have an “inner man” that is indestructible, better than bionic. That’s why we can encourage one another to keep on keeping on.
The fact that we have an imperishable inner person, our eternal spirit, is our glorious hope in Christ. Renewing our inner spirit day by day is God’s perfect design for His children. It enables us to live the kind of optimistic and fruitful lives God planned for us till the very last day of our lives without despair. We can wake up in the morning and praise God for what’s ahead because His plans for us are always for good not evil. Being renewed spiritually day by day, every day, can cushion that downward slide that seems to accelerate with the years.
How then shall we as Christians view the aging process? The following Scripture provides a key: “For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” Aging is only part of the “momentary, light affliction” no matter how negative it feels. Aging is not terminal—we are destined to live forever! Our eyes should never focus on the limitations of aging, but upon “the eternal weight of glory” in the future for these inevitably earthy bodies.
The Bible says there is nothing to compare with the marvels ahead of us in life-after-life, and we have no way to describe them adequately. Let’s put aging in the proper, optimistic perspective as Christians. At present we’re living in a mortal “earth suit” which God picked out for each of us through our DNA before we were born. It’s a designer garment specially tailored and adapted for use while we live in earth’s time zone.
God is the great I AM. There is no time in Him, only present endless eternity. As our temporary” earth suit” becomes tattered and worm, His plan is that our forever inner-man should become more robust and remain youthful. “[God] satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” (Psalm 103:5)
So let’s not be depressed with our normal decline, no matter what season of life we are in or the condition of our bodies. Let’s do what’s reasonable to maintain our “earth suit” in serviceable shape but concentrate on nourishing our inner spirit. Let’s go with God’s perfect plan and thank the Lord that we are heading upward, although to all appearances, we seem to be going down the slippery slide!