Yesterday was my day off, so I biked the Wabash Trace Trail, from Shenandoah to Council Bluffs – a total of 40 miles. The Wabash Trace is a beautiful trail, but man, was I feeling it the last 10 miles or so. My back was sore, my arms and shoulders were sore, and so were my legs.
When I told my daughter what I had done, she chastised me: “Dad, you can’t be doing that. You’re too old.” Hey, thanks a lot.
Occasionally, I am starting to feel my age. My eyes are weaker and tire more easily, my hearing has diminished, my knees ache from time-to-time, certainly my hair is grayer (with less of it), and I can’t throw a softball anymore due to bursitis in my shoulder.
This is nothing compared to what some in our church family are enduring. In just the past several weeks, we’ve had a back surgery, 2 knee replacement surgeries, surgery for a cancerous tumor, and finally, cataract surgery. We also have a dear sister who has stopped treatment for cancer because further treatment has been judged to be futile.
The reality is, our physical bodies reach their peak around age 18 and then start to deteriorate. This is part of the Curse upon mankind for our rebellion against God.
We can look forward to the fact that, when Christ comes again, He will lift the Curse and those who belong to Him will receive new bodies. Our new bodies will no longer be subject to deterioration. One prominent theologian even argues that our resurrected bodies will get stronger over time and possess super-human capabilities.
Whenever I meet with a person who is suffering, especially when death is near, I try to encourage him or her to think about their resurrected body.
I also like to share II Corinthians 4:16, which says:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
I totally get that first part: outwardly we are wasting away. But now, what does it mean that inwardly we are being renewed day by day? What is that all about?
The best description of what this means is found in Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians. It goes like this:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)
And so, to be inwardly renewed means to grasp more fully the love of God. Isn’t that beautiful? May this be our prayer for those who are suffering.