“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die.” –Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
We get excited when a baby is born. There is fresh celebration when we’re newly wed, entering a new job, or buying a first home to raise our children in. When something is new, our imaginations run wild with future memories made and the hope of life getting better. But babies grow old and die. Newlyweds endure a lifetime of two sinners living together. Jobs turn into careers that we work until our bodies fail, and we retire. Houses age and children move out. Hopes and dreams excite us, but living out life drags us. We aren’t prepared for the fight. The world does not prepare us to age and to die.
The world only knows how to celebrate what is fresh. That’s why fads are so quick to come and go. We are pressured to discover a “new you,” to find what makes our hearts flutter afresh each day. Youth culture is celebrated far more than wisdom from a life well lived and a life prepared to die well. But the freshness of new things is not better than the end. Ecclesiastes 7:8 reads, “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” Arrogance keeps us impatient. A humble faith in God gives us patient endurance to age well and die well to the glory of God.
I learned something from lying in a hospital bed for 3 days last week: our existence is a fragile mortality. Wisdom comes from aging well; that is growing in Christ-likeness. Wisdom is found in dying well; that is trusting that the celebration of things in the end is better than the beginning. God is sovereign, and I know I gained more wisdom in 3 days than I could in 3 weeks at a Bible conference. My folly is more than an information problem; deeper still, it is a relationship problem. The course of our lives has phases, but then we die. Has eternity with Jesus been displayed as my highest joy while aging and walking toward my death on earth?
Wisdom to age well and die well must be Spirit gifted wisdom in the Word received with humility and a dependence upon God’s sovereignty even when I am left confused and my “why” questions are left unanswered. O for grace to trust Him more!
Grant us grace, O Lord, to trust You and depend upon You even if it means temporary pain in this temporary life. Give grace to our eyes of faith to see eternity with You as far greater, far more satisfying than even our wildest dreams on earth. Teach us to age well and to die well, displaying Your glory through us to a world that is dying. Amen.