Have you noticed how often we Christians adopt our culture’s despair over aging? To verify the reality of ageism, go shopping for a birthday card! God’s viewpoint is strangely different. Scripture refers to LONG LIFE as a reward, a gift, and a blessing. To prompt our thankfulness as the birthdays accumulate, I’ve identified 26 blessings of long life, A—Z.
A: The gift of time makes it possible to make amends and receive them . . . to even understand that they are needed.
B: Over the years, I’ve collected images of beauty that soothe my soul and cause me to praise God. I can revisit such beauty anytime, anywhere. One mental picture is a field of wildflowers atop the Beartooth Mountains. Colorful flowers, dancing in the wind, cover a slope that drops into a blue, blue mountain lake. The opposite slope is covered with pristine snow . . . a glorious mental picture!
C: It is a joy to recollect for an adult child or grandchild some of our cherished memories of their infancy, childhood, and youth.
D: With longevity, we experience the death of others—their absence and the grief or perhaps relief that follows. How can we not then ponder how we will be remembered?
E: Long life gives us the time to collect the blessing of experience and develop empathy. We may or may not have a dream and see it fulfilled. For sure, we will watch a plan fail and learn much.
F: For those of us prone to ideas, we need longevity to finish what we’ve started!
G: When one grandmother died, we found a huge stack of cottage cheese cartons carefully washed and saved. Was this silly? No, she had survived the great depression by means of frugality. All my life I had observed her generosity with others, but within her own household she wasted nothing that might be re-used. Becoming older lets us observe how the factors impacting each generation differ greatly.
H: Our bodies and minds can be quite capable until death, but we lose strength and stamina even with regular exercise. Flexibility is quick to leave us if we do not use it. Hearing and eyesight—well, we thank God for glasses and hearing aids. All in all, aging is humbling, yet that is a good thing.
I: While we will change, fail, regroup, and grow in our endeavors over time, the core of who we are does not change. Identity is not our age, our vocation, our marital status, our football team, our stuff—but the inner person. We are God’s precious, maturing children.
J: Over time, joy wears well—better even than laughter. One friend has a knack for complaining in an amusing, comical way. Inevitably she makes us laugh, but I do not come away encouraged.
K: Another friend keeps on keepin’ on. She is in a season of difficulty, but this sister invariably finds beauty in nature, humor in her situation, and praises God for his provision. Her faithfulness encourages me . . . every time.
L: At one function, a woman hobbled over to our table, plopped down and told us all her ailments before asking our names. It seems the more birthdays we have, the wider the divide between those who choose the long view or those who focus on today’s difficulties. Taking the long view, the eternal perspective of hope in Jesus Christ, radically impacts the value of our time on earth.
M: Sadly, maturity does not characterize all older adults. However, longevity does give us more opportunity to learn, grow, and acquire wisdom.
N: Fear, complaining, and catastrophizing (as did the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt) does not bring blessings. Over time, we learn that negativity is useless and counterproductive. It is faith and praise that activates God’s power in our lives.
O: Long life allows us to witness how God uses very hard things, even evil for good. The result is increased faith, optimism, or a longer view of today’s concerns.
P: Taking pride in one’s work, word, and even one’s hand shake, gives us a good reputation. The pride longevity enables us to abandon is the kind that looks down on others in order to build oneself up. Given enough time, such pride can finally be abandoned for better things.
Q: The accumulation of birthdays gives us opportunity and cause to question our assumptions, opinions, and basic beliefs. While this can be painful, it is a huge blessing to have the time to confirm and/or correct one’s course.
R: Becoming older lets us remember the events of our lives in proper perspective. When Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, it was a catastrophic event. Decades later, Genesis 50:20, he was able to see how God used his brothers’ treachery to position him to do good.
S: A long life enables us to watch styles come and go and sometimes come again. I’ve learned to be careful in my comments as such things may yet be important to those I love. My grandmother failed to see anything amusing about me dressing up for a Roaring Twenties dance. The twenties had been her time to shine, the style of her youth!
T: Many birthdays give us time to nurture long-term relationships. What a joy to reunite with friends from my idealistic youth and compare our journeys! We perceive each other as we were then, yet we know each other as we are now.
U: The news constantly changes, but the gift of a long life enables us to recognize universal, biblical truths. If we wait, watch and listen, we see God’s truth surface. How comforting that God does not change nor does his Word.
V: Longevity affords us the opportunities to validate those who have made important contributions to our lives. Cross-country trips, re-unions, or interactions with children of a long-time family friend may bring unexpected validation to us as well.
W: Perhaps the greatest blessing of many birthdays is walking with Jesus. Of course, we eagerly anticipate spending eternity with Him free of our sin nature. But here and now, we can grow and learn, serve and intercede, send or go, share and complete the good works we are called and gifted to do.
X: Because I’m enjoying a long life, I’ve been able to research our family history. I discovered a Southern ancestor whose signature was an X. Although she “signed” for her pension each month at a post office in Alabama, my ancestor was the widow of a Union soldier. What heritage have you yet to discover?
Y: Yeshua, the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ, is the center-point of life. Some are taught about Him from childhood. Others need to discover Him on their own. A long life gives us time to seek Him, find Him, learn how to live for and with Him, and then share Him with others.
Z: Observing the zoo of life, how can we miss the astounding humor of God? If you have thus far missed it, check out the departing view of a zebra. One daughter and I got giggles of thankfulness at the Boise zoo one day—thankful that we were not so decorated. As I was riding my bike by the same Boise zoo in 2018, out of the trees popped up the head of a giraffe! How can we not join God in laughing at the absurdity of our limited perspective and His relentless reminders. Life is good—His precious gift to us to enjoy with each year He gives us. Hallelujah.
Scriptures affirming long life as a blessing: Psalms 91:16; Proverbs 3:16, 4:10, 13:3, 22:4, and 28:16; Genesis 15:15, 25:8, and 35:29; Deuteronomy 6:2, 11:9, 22:7, 25:15, and 32:47; I Kings 3:14; I Chronicles 29:28; Job 5:26, and 42:17; Leviticus 19:2 and Ephesians 6:3.