Turning Forty: Reflections on Middle Age

March 2, 2020

Recently I turned the big 4-0! And I have to confess that I feel pretty excited about it. As I have reflected on this, I realized that I have sound biblical reasoning for this general good cheer that I feel about growing older. In other words, it’s not the worldly wisdom of “thinking positively” and “loving yourself” in whatever stage of life you are in that I’m talking about. It’s something far more valuable (and helpful) than that!

So, what’s the secret of this biblical good cheer about growing older? It’s the hope of the resurrection! What I’ve realized is that if I didn’t have the hope of the resurrection from the dead, then the losses the aging process brings would be profound because they would be permanent. If this life is all I’m living for, then being on the decline (so to speak!) physically would just be terribly sad; it would mean that my best days are in fact behind me. But the hope of resurrection changes all of that. It tells me that when Christ comes again, I will have a new and glorious body, “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting’”(1 Cor.15:53-55)?  

The habit of running is one small way this plays out for me. You see, I’m one of those weird people who actually loves long-distance running, and I’m even kind of good at it. When I was young, I could pound out a lot of miles with ne’er an injury to speak of. But 20 years later (and 6 pregnancies thrown in there) it’s a much different story.  Oh, I still run, but with less speed, fewer miles, and chronic injuries. But one of the happiest thoughts for me, as it relates to running, is that my best days are not actually behind me, but in front of me. I will enjoy some fantastic runs on the new earth and I can’t wait!

Now I realize that that is a small and nearly inconsequential example, but the principle applies to the bigger, weightier matters we face as we age. The physical losses we experience in this life as years pass are temporary, thank God.

As Christians, we can sing the line from the Getty song that says, “Youth and beauty hurry by” with a smile. The world hears that and panics, trying with all its might to chase youth and beauty down. But the Christian can laugh because we know better. We know the hope of the resurrection: that even what we were at 20 doesn’t hold a candle to what we will be when our Savior returns and we put on the immortal and imperishable!  Because of this truth, my middle-aged self, with my growing number of gray hairs and wrinkles and aches, has good reason to hope and to laugh at the days to come.

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