It is not unusual for those of us in advancing years to be scheduled for a stress test in the hospital including treadmill, heart monitor, EKG, and nuclear imaging. I’ve had that experience several times. The point of such medical procedures is to see if one’s heart gives the right response with a steady, regular heartbeat when stretched to the limit. The tests are not comfortable and push us beyond what we thought we could endure. Sometimes it is discovered that there is something blocking normal channels of the heart.
Stress and pressure in our lives is usually built up over time, although the onset of trouble may seem sudden. Blood pressure tends to increase gradually. As we age, there are different kinds of pressures—interior and exterior, self-imposed or circumstantial—which affect our well-being. Our hearts and circulatory system become sluggish, and often an irregular heartbeat develops, as in my case. Sometimes the condition is benign, sometimes more serious and medication is required. As time goes on, eventually a pacemaker may be implanted to assist normal function.
There are spiritual parallels. The Lord allows situations to test us on the treadmill of life to see if our spiritual hearts respond correctly under pressure. Some things may be blocking our normal responses to His voice and hindering the completion with joy of the course in life that God has appointed for us. Cares of this world, prolonged illness, relationship pressures, and multiple sufferings beset us. Such conditions may result in a breakdown in physical health as well as spiritual health. We notice fatigue in both areas; we can’t keep up the pace of life as we age. Our energy is depleted, particularly through our increasing limitations. Second Corinthians 4:16-18 notifies us, in case we are in doubt, that “our outer person is decaying [wasting away]” because we all are “earthen vessels made of clay.” We feel broken, run down, tired, used up, and physically and spiritually listless.
Just as we are given medication to restore physical normalcy, most of us whose pace is irregular need some assistance to regain the normal, regular function of our spiritual hearts. It is essential for our inner person, our spiritual infrastructure, to be renewed day by day. This refreshing comes from the Spirit of God as we seek God’s presence daily, from the Sacraments and the Mass, and from the Word of God all of which nourish our souls.
GOD, The Divine Pacemaker, is always available to mend our spiritual hearts and restore His pace for our final days. As we focus on Him, looking unto Him as the “Author and FINISHER” of our faith, and Finisher of our life course, He infuses sufficient strength for those Last Miles of our earthly journey. As the old hymn goes, “He giveth more grace as the burdens grow greater....” The assistance may also come through friends who pray and care for and encourage us, cheer us on, and bear us up when we are flying low. Thank God for The Body of Christ, the Household of Faith!