Should I lament my grey hairs?

I’m not very old really. Some young whippersnappers might think I am perhaps. Sometimes I feel a little bit old, but more often I feel like I’m just starting out and have no idea what I’m doing. It seems that I get one new grey hair in my beard every day. That’s been happening for a while, but it’s now starting to add up a bit. But I know I’m not really very old. Mid-30s isn’t old.

Today an off-hand comment in this book made me ponder aging a little bit. Is aging to be lamented or not?

Most often I have said that it is not. Aging is, after all, a natural phenomenon. The ludicrous lengths to which some go to turn back, or at least cover up, their aging have always seemed so foolish and futile to me. Most often they end up making themselves look worse than if they had aged well. There’s no use trying to dodge the inevitable.

But today I considered aging from different viewpoint. Aging is a slow decay; it is, to quote the comment I mentioned earlier, “imperfection on the march.”

Any imperfection at all is an product of humanity’s fall into sin. God created a perfect world, but we see the cursed effects of human sin anywhere imperfection is found. Whenever we see imperfection, we should be reminded of the reality of sin.

The only thing worst than imperfection is “imperfection on the march.” The worst thing about aging, the reason it is lamentable, is that it is slowly but surely overtaking us. As we get older, we also get greyer, slower, achier… There are certain things we can (should even?) do to stave off these symptoms of decay, but ultimately it is inevitable: imperfection will increase until we are overtaken completely.

Well, you might think, this got morbid quickly. I guess it has, but aging is an ultimately morbid topic. Grey hairs should remind us that we are aging, which should in turn remind us of our imperfection, which should remind us of our sinfulness, which should remind us that we are a cursed people in a cursed world. Someday we will die, there’s no way around it.

Except that there is a way around it — or more accurately, a way through it! Jesus has slain death, and that includes the slow decay that precedes it. Aging and death are inevitable, but they are not terminal. That seems so counter-intuitive to us, but it makes sense it would be: is it really a surprise that the God who made the universe does things that surprise us?

Thinking about aging only seems morbid when we stop at death, when we view our lives as tragic. But we who are in Christ are living out a comedy, not a tragedy! Death is in the middle of our story, not at the end.

So while aspects of aging are certainly lamentable, the bigger picture is one of comfort and joy. He who redeems our aging should redeem our thinking about aging as well, because thinking about aging should ultimately lead us to think about him. 

O Lord, use every new grey hair to remind us of you.


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