Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Ageless Delight

“That I may finish my course with joy!” (Acts 20:24).

A few fortunate senior citizens go on pretty much as they always have with very few parts out of order, but for most of us, aging exacts a heavy toll. Solomon’s description of the process sums things up pretty well:

In old age, your body no longer serves you so well.
Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints stiffen.
The shades are pulled down on the world.
You can’t come and go at will. Things grind to a halt.
The hum of the household fades away.
You are wakened now by bird-song.
Hikes to the mountains are a thing of the past.
Even a stroll down the road has its terrors.
Your hair turns apple-blossom white,
Adorning a fragile and impotent matchstick body.[1]

To think of all the things you used to do and can’t do any more only makes you feel worse. It’s much better to poke fun at oneself rather than grumble and complain. Thomas Aquinas said, “It is against reason to be burdensome to others, showing no amusement and acting as a wet blanket. Those without a sense of fun, who never say anything ridiculous, and are cantankerous with those who do… are called grumpy and rude.” [2]

Arthritic joints, hearing and memory loss, failing eyesight and stumbling gait are no fun, but we can survive them by managing to see them, among other things and despite everything, as desperately funny.

There’s something delightful about old folks who keep their sense of humor. They’re a joy to be around. Like the eighty-year-old gardener who, when asked how old he was, replied, “I’m an octogeranium.” You gotta love it! An old man with a young mind and puckish wit, the kind of person you love to be around.

How can we gain and keep that perspective? Well… it’s a matter of faith—putting one’s trust in our Father’s wise bestowment (what the Bible calls our “lot”), His compassionate, kindhearted care, His unfailing love, and His unbreakable promise that someday He will cure everything that ails us and take us to be with Him forever. These are the truths that satisfy and sustain us, that enable us to rise joyfully (albeit painfully) each morning.

Israel’s prophet, Habakkuk, put it this way:

Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
     and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
     and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
     and the cattle barns empty,
I’m singing joyful praise to GOD.
     I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.[3]

David Roper

[1] Ecclesiastes 12:3–5, The Message.
[2] Thomas Aquinas, Summa of the Summa, (II-II, 148, 4,)
[3] Habakkuk 3:17–18, The Message.

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