Reflections on Aging

Another birthday. I turn 57 today. Yikes. I can see 60 from here. Amazing. James is right. We are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes (4:14).

I suppose I feel all the more that way after my bout with head and neck cancer four years ago. Every day is a gift. I’m not really old, I don’t think, but after wondering if you might have died at age 53, things take on a different perspective the older you get.

For each of the years since finishing cancer treatment, I have acknowledged my birthdays with a different little ditty of my own making. Not sure why. Maybe it’s the significance of marking another year I didn’t know for sure if I would ever have.

Fifty-three was 53 and cancer free.
Fifty-four was 54 and ready for more.
Fifty-five was 55 and staying alive (OK, so I stole that one from the federal government).
Fifty-six, last year, was 56 and up to the same old tricks.
Fifty-seven is 57 and not ready for heaven – at least not as far as cancer seems to be concerned. You never know, but I do praise God for four years now where I remain cancer free and able to do my pastoral work for His glory and others’ joy.

How is this so? Why do I continue on?

Isaiah 46:3-4 answers these questions.

3 “Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; 4 even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.

In contrast to idols of Babylon like Bel and Nebo (see v. 1-2), God doesn’t make burdens for His people; He bears His people and their burdens ALL THEIR LIVES.

He really wants us to get this. Listen to me, he says. The accumulation of verbs saying essentially the same thing jumps off the page. You have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.

Matthew Henry writes in his commentary on Isaiah:

As God began early to do them good (when Israel was a child, then I loved him), so he had constantly continued to do them good: he had carried them from the womb to this day. And we may all witness for God that he has been thus gracious to us. We have been borne by him from the belly, from the womb, else we should have died from the womb and given up the ghost when we came out of the belly. We have been the constant care of his kind providence, carried in the arms of his power and in the bosom of his love and pity.

Borne, carried, — these words speak of God’s faithfulness in the past to his aging people, from the womb no less. Will carry, will bear, will carry, will save, — these words speak of God’s ongoing promised faithfulness into the twilight years, should He grant length of days.

Again, Matthew Henry:

God has graciously engaged to support and comfort his faithful servants, even in their old age: “Even to your old age, when you grow unfit for business, when you are compassed with infirmities, and perhaps your relations begin to grow weary of you, yet I am he—he that I am, he that I have been—the very same by whom you have been borne from the belly and carried from the womb. You change, but I am the same. I am he that I have promised to be, he that you have found me, and he that you would have me to be. I will carry you, I will bear, will bear you up and bear you out, and will carry you on in your way and carry you home at last.’’

What a contrast God is to the idols of Babylon and the idols of our 21st century making! The latter bears us down with burdens unspeakably heavy; the former, our great God, Jehovah, through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, lifts (the Hebrew word for carried in the context literally means to raise) us up and bears us along through all of life, from womb to tomb as they say, rescuing us at every turn.

There is no god like our God from the moment of conception to the 57th birthday and beyond.

I wonder what rhymes with 58?

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