TODAY’S SCRIPTURE Ecclesiastes 12:1-14
The preacher who wrote Ecclesiastes 12 and Atul Gawande, author of Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, share some similar insights into the aging process. The preacher declares that over time a person’s arms tremble, legs grow weak, teeth are lost, vision changes, chewing becomes increasingly challenging, difficulty sleeping increases, hearing decreases, gait is no longer steady, hair grays, and appetite fails (See Ecclesiastes 12:1-5).
From a medical perspective, Gawande corroborates similar physical changes as people age. Diseases like arthritis, diabetes, strokes, changes in blood flow and nerve conductivity, and muscle and bone loss affect the strength and stability of our limbs and our ability to ambulate steadily. Lack of blood flow to our teeth, reduction in saliva, decreases in the strength of our jaw muscles, and bone loss in our mandibles contribute to weaker gums, losing teeth, and increased difficulty chewing. Calcium, like the calcium lost in your bones and teeth, accumulates in and hardens organs like your heart and lungs, blood vessels, and joints. Thus, the heart works harder to pump blood through your body, and it becomes difficult to walk up steps or to ambulate without losing your breath. Chemical changes in the lenses of our eyes cause our lenses to become less elastic and to yellow leading to vision changes and less light reaching our retinas. The reservoirs of pigment cells needed to maintain hair color empty and hair grays. Mechanisms in skin cells change affecting the function of sweat glands and accumulation of age spots (or “mileage markers” as a friend refers to them).¹
Both the preacher and Gawande are correct in their observations that we are not physically ageless. Researchers may debate the orderliness of the aging process, the roles played by our genetics, and how our bodies wear down over time, but God declares, “Man is going to his eternal home” (Ecclesiastes 12:5).
Therefore, we need to admit and accept our physical mortality and to acknowledge
our spiritually immortality. While “the mourners may go about the streets” when you die, you can prepare now to go to your heavenly home.
Today, I will…evaluate prayerfully my reverence for God and my obedience to His commands. I will ask God to show me through study and others how I may more thoroughly prepare for my transition to eternity.
¹ Atul Gawande, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (Metropolitan Books; New York, 2014) 29-35.