At 25, I am at the prime of my youth. But in the succeeding years, I know I will start to deteriorate.
I made a quick search of what to expect as you age.
Cardiovascular system – the heart becomes less efficient, hardened fatty deposits form on the arterial walls, loss in elasticity with atherosclerosis makes arteries stiffer and resulting to hypertension
Bones, muscles and joints – bones shrink in size and density, and you become shorter (what? I’ll eventually be less than 5 feet tall!) and more susceptible to fractures.
Digestive system – slower secretion of digestive juices result to constipation, time to perfect this position
Kidneys, bladder and urinary tract – less efficient waste removal system, diabetes, high blood pressure damage kidneys, urinary incontinence (time to wear adult diapers)
Brain and nervous system – neurons decrease, memories become less efficient, slower reflexes mean I can no longer swat a mosquito
Eyes – tears lessen, retinas thin, lenses blur. Cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration
Ears – hearing loss, eardrums thicken, earwax buildup (ew!)
Teeth – receded gum line, brittle teeth, less saliva means teeth are more vulnerable to decay
Skin, nails and hair – drier skin, less elastic, more fragile, skin tags are common, less perspiration means it’s harder to stay cool in high temperatures, wrinkles!
These are all expected to happen as we age. No matter how much we try to take care of our health while we’re young, we will eventually waste away. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:16, that outwardly, we are wasting away. It did not even say, we are growing old, it says, “wasting away”. Our bodies then, will practically be useless in the end.
Everyday, we waste away. Science says it. My body shows it. The Bible confirms it. But what is amazing is that though we waste away outwardly, the verse continues, our inner self is being renewed day by day. Physically we are dying little by little, but spiritually, we are growing more mature daily.
Paul wrote the book of 2 Corinthians and had his fair share of persecutions. The scars from beatings and imprisonments remain. His wounds probably did not heal as fast anymore. There were no painkillers or antibiotics. His eyes could see less clearly (there were no glasses that time), his heart had a harder time pumping blood, his digestive system slowed down.
I find it a paradox that we cannot grow spiritually without investing time and effort daily, and a little wasting away of our bodies along the way.
But Paul chose to look beyond what was visible/physical, to believe the invisible/spiritual God.
As our bodies finally waste away, remember what Jesus said in Matthew 24:35,
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
Psalm 73:26 could not be more true:
My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Our bodies will fail. That is a given fact. But there is a beautiful hope knowing that the paradox of wasting away physically is temporary, and our relationship with Lord daily is beyond death. The wasting away is worth it if we decide to be renewed daily by God.
This is a reflection from Pastor John Piper’s Solid Joy entry.