A friend, whom I’d known since my teen-age years, recently died. The fact that she was so close to my age made me face that the fact that my mortal body is aging. To be honest, I avoid looking at pictures which show the effects of aging. These pictures stir up fear. I prefer to think that I will never get old. For quite a few years, I denied the fact that my hair was gray. When a photos of myself revealed the truth, I denied it, saying to myself, “there’s something wrong with this photo; my hair isn’t gray; it must have been the lighting.”
It’s true that my hearing and my eyesight are not as sharp as they used to be, and my memory is not as quick. But my imagination is as active as it always has been! Therefore, faced with the death of my friend, I began to imagine the worst possible scenario and feel panicky. Then, I read these words:
“ O Lord, you alone are my hope.
I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood.
Yes, you have been with me from birth;
from my mother’s womb you have cared for me.
No wonder I am always praising you!
My life is an example to many,
because you have been my strength and protection.
That is why I can never stop praising you;
I declare your glory all day long” (Psalm 71:4-6 NLT).
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 will deliver you” (Isaiah 46:4 NKJV).
“Yes, this is true,” I said to God. “You have been with me for my entire life; you’ve protected me; you’ve given me the knowledge and wisdom that I’ve asked for; you’ve forgiven me when I’ve wandered away from you; though I could not see you at the time, you were with me in every dark and painful valley; you’ve showered me with good things; you will not desert me when I get old; even though my hair has turned gray, you will take care of me.” (Isaiah 46:4)
After praying this, I determined, afresh, to place my trust and hope in God—to rely on him no matter what happens to my physical body. Losing my ability to function would be sad, but not nearly as sad as the losing my connection with him.
The other change I determined to make is to focus on wellness instead of illness. Focusing on wellness means, among other things, that I will trust God to remain with me and give me strength all the days of my life, and I will use my imagination to picture a healthy and strong self instead of a sick and weak self.
When the day arrives for me to leave this earth, I want to have the same wonderful testimony that my friend who died had. The last words that she spoke her family were, “boast in the Lord.” In life and in death, she honored him. I want to live as healthy as possible, for as long as possible, so that like my friend, I can boast greatly in God’s goodness.
I’ve determined, afresh, that like the Psalmist, my mouth shall tell of God’s limitless righteousness and salvation. I will sing about (and live in) the strength that he provides. It has always been sufficient. (Psalm 71:15-18)
I Will Live by the Strength which the Spirit Gives
I will live by the strength which the Spirit gives–
Which the Spirit gives,
Which the Holy Spirit gives–
I will live by the strength which the Spirit gives;
I will live by the strength of the Lord.
Giving thanks every day;
Finding something kind to say;
Reaching out in love to those I see;
Learning not to complain;
Replacing worry with a song.
Meditating on Truth;
Listening for God’s wise command;
Saying “Yes, Lord, I will go your way”;
Choosing, then, to obey,
Knowing he will be there;
Rejoicing in his love for me.
Fearing not curse or threat
Which the evil one blurts out;
Finding victory through interceding prayer;
Growing stronger each day,
As I speak words of truth,
Relying more and more on him.