OK, time for some tough talk here. While growing older with a positive attitude is very possible, let’s also face facts. Getting older is hard. It’s hard both physically and mentally. There’s just no denying that.
You may start to notice your creaky knees, an ache here or another new one there. Then conversations are a bit harder to hear and decipher. Commotion or hubbub upsets you and you can’t quite figure out why. Multitasking is no longer even in the realm of possibility. One thing at a time please. Reaching for names becomes a challenge, which is so embarrassing when you suddenly meet a familiar but nameless face, or my personal favourite, “yes I’m sure I did tell you that.” Then there are the ever more prevalent, where are my keys, or why did I come into this room anyway. And, all of these afflictions while disturbing may pale in the light of a major illness or a tragic loss.
Nothing is static. Everything is constantly shifting and moving, like it or not. We’d prefer that things remain the same even if perhaps life as it is is not exactly good for us and we could do better. Mentally life can be even more difficult than the physical changes we now see in ourselves. Accepting these new realities can be daunting so we fight against them. I don’t need a hearing aid. I don’t need a cane. I’ll just take more pain meds. Of course I know where I left my keys. But, privately we either put it out of our minds or we worry about these changes.
The bigger mental challenges can sometimes dwarf the bodily ones. Finances are fixed as prices on just about everything rises. How will we manage? Socially, especially with covid, we may feel isolated and alone. We watch as siblings and friends are moving into care homes or worse. Will I make some sort of huge mistake legally, perhaps being scammed? Will I be able to drive for many more years? How long can I care for myself? Should I make a plan now so that I can maintain as much independence as possible, or can I wing it? I’ll do it when the time comes. After all, nothing’s going to happen tomorrow. Or the most tragic adjustment of all, a loved one has passed. You’ve hit a wall. Navigating loss and grief is a whole other way of living.
Yet, seniors, your emotional and physical strength is more than achievable!
“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
This verse is well known but let’s apply it to the life of a mature adult. We are promised that we will renew our strength if we wait on the Lord. Weakness is out the window! This isn’t a maybe or a perhaps situation. We can soar like eagles even as the candles increase on our birthday cake. We may be more weary and tired than at any other time in our life. We may be exhausted and worn out dragged down by our mounting physical ailments and our diminishing supply of joyful resources yet we are promised renewed strength and energy despite our circumstances if we wait on the Lord.
Moreover, we are assured here that we can run and not be weary! Well, I really can’t physically run any more. Even if I could, I’d probably pee my pants. When I was young I did jog. Plus, I ran frantically through life as youth and parenthood often demands. Now I walk through each day! And, he promises me that I won’t faint as I do even though my physical strength and energy have diminished! Each day on my walk I thank God that I am able to still do it…because someday inevitably I won’t. I am very aware of that which makes it even more wonderful. Yet, as in daily life, it’s his grace that allows me to keep going for now and one day when I simply can’t do it anymore, it’s his grace that we will see me the next step of the way too. I don’t worry about that. I know who is holding my future.
Yet, here’s perhaps the most important part. There’s a caveat to the promise. It says if I wait on the Lord. What does that really mean? I must do my part if I want to gain this strength. The Hebrew word for wait means to anticipate or to hope for. Yes, certainly we do. But what if wait here means to serve, just as a restaurant waiter? A waiter’s job is to find out what you prefer, what pleases you most and then do it. What if we are being told that if we continue to serve, which means to seek to please the Lord, then we will enjoy renewed strength?
Pleasing or serving God can only mean one thing-that we actively love others, whatever that looks like, and we are never too old to do that. Those are the terms. That’s how we gain our strength back.