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Whatever season of life you’re in, God has equipped you to flourish—to live in the transforming power and beauty of His grace. As we age, we can easily lose sight of this message as cultural ideals glorifying youth take center stage.
In the book, Aging With Grace, Sharon W. Betters and Susan Hunt offer present-day and biblical examples of women who rediscovered Gospel-rooted joy in their lives. Equipped with a biblical view of aging, Aging with Grace will help you encounter afresh the Gospel that “is big enough, good enough, and powerful enough to make every season of life significant and glorious.”
Aging with Grace: Matriarchs of the Exile
“I think I have learned more of my dreadfully wicked heart, and the preciousness of Jesus during this trial than I ever learnt before.” —Mary Winslow
Maybe you could write your name beside that statement after a time of deep sorrow.
The loss of our first grandchild at the age of two weeks threw me into a two-year period of grieving that resulted in a greater understanding of God’s love and His ways, and yes, a greater understanding of my “dreadfully wicked heart.”
The title “Matriarchs of the Exile” reminds us of the Jewish exiles who were forced because of sin to leave the promised land and live in captivity in Babylon. But we also see ourselves in this title. One day we will be a Matriarch, if we aren’t one already. We will be among the oldest who set the example by leading well those in our realm of influence. Leading those who, like us, are exiles in a land that is not our own. We look “forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10).
Our sorrow is a reminder of our exiled status. We are living in a broken world, but it is just temporary. We can learn something from those Jewish Matriarch exiles. Let’s put ourselves in their sandals. Jeremiah 29:4-7 and verse 10 tell us their predicament:
The matriarchs were most likely willing to follow these instructions up until the “70-year” news. If you or I were in that group of exiles, we would understand how devastating that was. They would never again see the promised land. Their home. They would die before God ever delivered them. The older we become the harder it is to let go of what is familiar. These Matriarchs were no different than us. It was a huge loss for them. Something that could potentially throw them into a state of hopelessness.
But God. He is all about hope. He IS our Hope. Listen to what He told His people. These matriarchs included.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find me, when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile” (Jeremiah 29:11-14).
This left the exiles with three choices:
It would all come down to what was more important to them. Caring about the next generation or caring for themselves. Pleasing God, or pleasing self.
Just like these exiles, we have a choice. The older we get we begin to feel like we are being taken captive by our age. We are at the mercy of our health, aches, pains, and limitations. Maybe we feel helpless in being able to make a difference in the lives of those we love. What good are we anymore?
“We begin to believe our value is in what we do, rather than whose we are.” —Sharon Betters
The answer is to see ourselves as God sees us. We are His elect exiles. On this earth for a short time to show His glory, His love, His patience, and His truth to those around us. Thinking this way sets us free from our captivity and allows us to flourish where we have been put. God was not only telling the exiles this, but He is telling you and me this also, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
“When all seems lost, God keeps His promises and breathes life into what appears to be dead. When life crumbles around us and we wonder if God has lost control, we see Jesus (Hebrews 2:9) the fulfillment of God’s greatest promise.” —Sharon Betters
Ladies, how are you traveling heavenward? Are you trusting God and putting your hope in Him and His plan for your life to glorify Him and to impact the generations to follow?
Sharon Betters, one of the authors of Aging with Grace, says that after the death of her teen son she made the statement to her husband, Chuck, “If we didn’t have children, I think I would walk away from my faith. Trusting God feels so much harder than blaming him.”
Chuck’s reply was in the form of a question. “If your faith isn’t good enough for you, why do you want our children to cling to the Lord?”
Sharon answered, “Because I know there is nowhere else to go for hope and help. I have to believe that at some point His grace will be enough.”
And it always will be.
Age with grace for the glory of God and for the sake of the generations to follow.
How are you traveling heavenward, and how are you aging with grace today, friend?
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