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The Challenge Of Aging When You Are Ill

Posted Feb 10 2013 10:00am
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“When Joshua had grown old, the Lord said to him, ‘You are now very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over.’” (Joshua 13:1)

I would like to think I’m growing older gracefully, but I’m probably not. I complain, get frustrated, am weary of struggling with an aging body that also has numerous other issues alongside getting older. Yet, like Joshua, I sense there is more on my plate, more to do, “more land to take over.”

Recently I was in a hospital emergency room due to severe pain in my arm and shoulder, likely brought about by shoveling some snow. As if it was not enough to have my body shouting at me that I was getting older by the terrible pain it was shooting through me, a very young nurse said as she was placing my arm in a sling: “You need to get a teenager to do your drive from now on.”

And I thought to myself, Right, you need to drive home the point that I’m getting old!

Our eyesight dims, our bones become fragile, our muscles weaken, our hearing diminishes, and other ailments come along like arthritis and diabetes, and pretty much anything related to a body wearing out. The normal wear and tear of aging can be a challenge for anyone, but for those of us who have other diseases and afflictions added into the mix, it seems you just about have to become a philosopher to endure it.

Thankfully the Lord understands our challenges even better than we do, and we can call upon Him for help and strength in our weaknesses. We may face a time of aches and pains and diminished health, but our spirit need not be weak and feeble, not when we have the Lord and His word to empower us.

People spend millions of dollars trying to stave off the inevitable. They have skin stretched, fat removed, laser surgery on their eyes. People use canes, walkers, hearing aids. They take medications to restore things like insulin. Uncountable dollars are spent on vitamins and nutrients to try and keep from losing ground in a war with the body’s aging process.

We would like to think we are not old, and are not growing older. We can remember like yesterday being young, even remembering our childhood when old age seemed a million miles away. Then suddenly we look in the mirror and do not recognize the face looking back at us. We are astounded that we who were once so young are now “the old folks”.

We cannot prevent aging, no matter what the ads may say. We cannot wave a magic wand and make our illnesses, diseases, and numerous afflictions just disappear. Many of us are fighting a defensive war, trying to hold these houses of clay together, we may gain a little ground, but often it seems we are losing. It is easy to get completely caught up into our health issues and to lose sight of eternal issues.

Aging may not be easy or pretty. It presents us with a new, challenging stage of life. Yet I would encourage to look a bit less at the outside and more at the inside. Rather than leave a legacy of: He/She was so physically attractive right until their dying day. How much better to leave a legacy of: He/She was such a kind, loving, Christlike person until the day they died.

You may find the challenge of aging daunting, and if you already face many health issues you may be especially concerned about additional health woes. I cannot promise things will get easier as you age, but I am certain that the way to grow old is with the Lord at your side. He is undaunted by age or affliction and with His strength we can survive and even thrive through the aging process.

Prayer: Dear Lord, as wear these earthly tents and they age and grow frail, help us to have within a heart that beats for You and a Spirit strong enough to sustain us in our weakness. Amen.

About the Author Karlton Douglas lives in Ohio with his lovely wife. His hope is to age gracefully in spite of the challenges ahead.

Does the aging process concern you? Do you worry about added health difficulties?

Need a smile today? Find out what kind of surprise grandpa is in for from this commercial by Walmart on aging. -Lisa

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