"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." II Cor. 4:16-17
My outward man is perishing. I know it, I feel it in my bones. A new pain in my back seems to have made itself unwelcome, I can't keep up with the rapid pace at which my colored hair turns gray again, and most alarming of all, I've had little slips in my mind here and there. I hate to even admit it.
I think to myself, I don' t have the strength and vitality that I had even ten years ago. And I see my dear mother, who cries nearly every day about not being able to "get back" to where she was. She mourns it. But it's all a part of life, a life that can still be worthwhile, in spite of the fall of man in the garden and the subsequent curse.
The above verse from II Corinthians tells me the real truth about old age. It does not have to be a b####. Our outward man perishes.The word for perish in the Greek lexicon is Strong's #1311, diaphtheiro. It means: to rot thoroughly, to ruin, corrupt, destroy, perish.
A seemingly unpleasant thought: we all have an appointment with death (unless we're part of the Rapture generation). I recently read a classic book about the Civil War called House Divided. Over and over it described battlefields where bodies rotted and left a stench. How they suffered in that "rich man's war."
I never really thought about the horror of the battlefield. But our very life is a battle, a battle with sin and death. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we get the great privilege of sharing His great victory over it. He graciously removed its bitterness and took away its stinger.
"O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?" I Cor. 15:55
If I grow in grace and knowledge of Him I don't have to fear death, or even fear old age. One time I snapped a picture of my aged father with his head held back, and eyes closed as he listened to my sister play Christmas music on her violin. I calligraphied a verse for him along with the photo:
"Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear,
Even I will carry, and I will deliver you." Isaiah 46:4
Old age is a part of God's plan. Paul says our life is a light affliction. How could he say that when he was stoned, whipped, imprisoned, shipwrecked, hunted down as a criminal and ended up with his head in a basket? We must conclude then that cancer, heart disease, strokes and broken bones and even broken minds can be just a light affliction. If we take His great salvation, this magnificent promise helps us endure and even flourish through all of life's trials.
We talked about the brevity of life yesterday. Dad reminded us we're already in eternity, even here and now. When we cross over from this life to the next, we'll realize our entire time here was just a tiny speck on an endless line. That makes life, pain, and suffering bearable. We are only strangers passing through.