Aging

by Dr. Harold J. Sala

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12

Dr. A. J. Wise says that you know you’re growing older when “your knees buckle and your belt won’t; when you’re 17 around the neck, 42 around the waist, and 100-plus around the golf course; when you paint the town red and take a long rest before applying a second coat; when you are burning the midnight oil at 9 p.m.; when your back goes out more than you do, and the little gray-haired lady you help across the street is your wife.”

DE Landscape 08 Tiergarten Old Couple by Francisco Osorio on Flickr

DE Landscape 08 Tiergarten Old Couple by Francisco Osorio

Though aging has always been a part of the life cycle, some things have happened since World War 2 which have drastically changed the sunset years.  The bottom line is the good news that men and women are living longer today than ever before.

If you are age 25 you can expect to live 5 to 10 years longer than your grandparents.  In the next ten years alone, say gerontologists, there will be an increase of 15% in the 65 to 74 age bracket, and an increase of 33% in the 75 and over bracket.  Increased longevity has been the result of scientists’ being able to control certain diseases such as smallpox, diphtheria, and tuberculosis, along with better nutrition and, certainly, better medical care.

In their book, Vitality and Aging, two researchers, James Fries and Lawrence Crapo, say that we are on the verge of becoming a rectangular society when most people will live to an advanced age and then over 85 there will be a rapid decline.

Good news is always welcome, yet I am reminded that 3,400 years ago Moses wrote that our years are “three score and ten” [or 70] “and if by reason of strength they be fourscore [or 80] years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow….” (Psalm 90:10, KJV).  Even then, as now, Moses was stressing that it is the quality of your life–not simply the duration of your life–that is important; nonetheless, as we live longer, the number of aged individuals among us does alter the structure of society and our future as we consider parents and the family.

What really happens when you grow old?  Is it something to be feared, as so many think?  Is retirement really the “end of the road” for you when you get the gold watch and are dispatched to the rocking chair?

Have we really been sold a bill of goods that tell us after age 65 you are dying a little bit every day, so you had better pick out the casket and find your plot?   What really happens in the aging process?  Those are some of the questions I will answer in this series on aging.

I would like to point out that there is a tremendous difference between the aging process and growing old.  The aging process is a natural, even beautiful part of life, especially for the Christian, who believes death is only the entrance to heaven.  On the other hand, growing old is a state of mind that can rapidly accelerate the aging process itself.  How old is old to you?

When I was a boy and my father was 40, I thought he was old, but now that long ago I passed that mark, I’ve gained an entirely new perspective on life and aging.  I’ve known men and women aged 85 and 90, who were far sharper and more alert, with a sense of humor and sparkle, than many of the people I have counseled and worked with at age 35 and 40.  The aging process doesn’t necessarily make you old; it’s your mental attitude, your reactions and response to the aging process that makes you an old man or an old woman.  Your faith in God, your lifestyle, your attitude, the way you eat, and most certainly the way you think, all relate to how the aging process affects you as you mature in years.

Resource reading: Psalm 90

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Harold J. Sala 2015_resizeSpeaker, author and Bible teacher, Dr. Harold Sala founded Guidelines in 1963 and has served at its helm since its inception.  Pioneering the five-minute commentary in Christian radio, Dr. Sala’s daily “Guidelines-A Five Minute Commentary on Living” is broadcast in 49 of the 50 states and is heard the world over in a variety of languages. Sala, who holds a Ph.D. in biblical text, has authored over 55 books published in19 languages.  He speaks and teaches frequently at conferences, seminars, and churches worldwide. Residing in Mission Viejo, California, Harold and his wife, Darlene, have three adult children and eight well-loved grandchildren. 

Used with permission from Guidelines International Ministries.  To learn more about Guidelines and the ministry, please email info@guidelines.org.  You may also visit the Guidelines website at www.guidelines.org

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