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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: Elizabeth’s Story
How do we flourish in times of darkness?
Teaching Science to fifth graders provided me with an opportunity to learn an important lesson about flourishing. In seeking to find out under what conditions a plant would grow best, we planted 3 bean seeds in separate containers. One seed we watered and placed in complete darkness in a file cabinet, one we placed in the light with no water, and the other was watered and placed in a window. The surprise for us all was that the seed watered but in darkness was able to become quite tall, but it was completely white. This plant, while seemingly alive, was not flourishing. It needed light in order to bear fruit.
There are times in our lives when flourishing seems impossible. Grief, rejection, loneliness, pain, and even the helplessness of aging can be dark places. How can we possibly flourish in a dark place?
How can we be people whose words and attitudes and reactions to the circumstances of life show the world that God is good? That He is just? That He makes no mistakes? That He certainly does work all things together for good for those who love Him? How can we radiate this message in a dark world?
These may seem like impossible questions to answer. But, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)
According to Psalm 92, the righteous will flourish. Those who flourish will be found planted in the house of the Lord. They flourish in His presence, because His presence is light. Exposure to the Light will cause them to bear fruit in old age.
“One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple.” (Psalm 27:4)
You and I are what we gaze upon. You and I radiate what is coming into our eyes. We radiate what we are choosing to focus our attention on.
The flourishing woman will radiate light. It’s all about keeping our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ. As we behold Him, we radiate Him, just like Moses.
“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.” (Exodus 34:29)
He is that light that shines from us into a dark place.
“….Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33)
Keep your eyes on Jesus, the overcomer of the world. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.
Luke 1 tells us about Elizabeth, a woman who was no different than we are in that she lived in a broken world and had a life that included tribulation. She had reason, humanly speaking, to not set her gaze on God. She had the potential of becoming bitter. Have you heard her story? She was childless, but went from baroness, to fruitfulness. It’s one of those reversals that only God can do.
At the end of Luke 1 the angel of the Lord says to Mary, “For nothing will be impossible with God,” I’ve always thought that this statement pointed to the virgin birth, but the context is the pregnancy of Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy, giving birth in old age, was used to encourage Mary.
“And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:36-37)
There are several miraculous pregnancies in the Old Testament, and in one of these a similar statement is made. Genesis 18 tells us of Sarah’s baroness. She laughs as an angel tells Abraham that she will conceive. But the angel says, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” It’s interesting that similar statements are made about two old ladies, Sarah and Elizabeth, and are referring to their fruitfulness. Those two words just don’t go together, do they. “Old” and “fruitful.”
Ladies, God is trying to tell us that flourishing is possible at any age, because flourishing is part of the Gospel story.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to obey My rules…. Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the Lord; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it." (Ezekiel 36:26-27,36)
What an awesome thought! He builds the ruined places. He plants that which was desolate. Do you feel ruined by sin or desolate…alone? He builds the ruined places. He plants that which was desolate. God says, “I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it.”
Is anything too hard for the Lord?
Baroness was only part of Elizabeth’s story. She and her husband, Zechariah the priest, were among God’s people who had not heard one word from God in 400 years. Had God forgotten them? Luke 1:6 says, “And they [Elizabeth and Zechariah] were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”
So many were wondering in that day, where is God? They were discouraged. They didn’t want to keep the sacrifices going. But Zechariah and Elizabeth were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. Blameless. And God saw.
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9)
Whether it has been 400 years or 2000 years, God sees each heart and desires to work in behalf of those who are righteous. He wants to use them as He did Elizabeth.
Elizabeth and Zechariah clung in faith to that last message of God that was written 400 years ago.
“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.” (Malachi 4:2)
This message gave them hope.
Sharon Betters said, “Biblical hope is the rich soil of flourishing.” There is no flourishing without hope. Faith in God’s promises leaves us hopeful. Faith in God’s promises causes us to flourish in dark places.
“None who wait [hope] for You shall be put to shame…” (Psalm 25:3)
We see in scripture that the words “wait” and “hope” are interchangeable.
“They who wait [hope] for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
The root word for “wait” in this verse means “to bind together,” possibly by twisting. Think of it like the cords of a rope. As the cords are pulled and stretched by a heavy load, they cling more tightly to one another. This makes them even stronger.
Elizabeth, as she waited on the Lord during her time of baroness, was twisted around the Lord. And as the years passed you can picture those strands becoming tighter and tighter. She was dying to self and her desires were changing to become like God’s desires.
Doesn’t that remind you of the verse, “delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart”? Not a new car or a beautiful house, but His desires, over a lifetime of delighting ourselves in Him, will become our desires.
This is aging with grace!
As Elizabeth put her hope in the eternal promises of God, He chose to bless her with a baby boy who would grow up to prepare the way for the promised Messiah. Her response was,
“Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when He looked on me, to take away reproach among people.” (Luke 1:25)
If you have turned to the light and trusted Him for your salvation, then you can say the same thing. Rejoice with Elizabeth! He has looked on you. He has taken away your reproach. There is no darkness that you will ever face that can overtake you. He is your light!
How are you flourishing and aging with grace today, friend?
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