New Year, Gray Hair, and Hopefully Some Wisdom

Pew-Thian Yap, Ruling Elder

The dawn of a new year can be exciting, but it can also feel like going through the dreaded midlife crisis all over again. We muse on the earlier decades of our lives—perhaps with comfort, but maybe with regret. We might feel that our best years are behind us, leaving us with nothing to look forward to but uninteresting days, a pointless existence, and the gradual deterioration of our body and mind. Facing these existential concerns, we can’t help but embark on a soul-searching journey.

We can draw great comfort from God’s word that aging can be a graceful process:

      “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.”  (Proverbs 16:31)

      “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.”  (Job 12:12)

      “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”  (2 Corinthians 4:16)

We celebrate aging. Our capacity to understand life from God’s perspective increases as we age. We grow frail physically, but we grow strong spiritually. We grow less attached to this world but more attached to our Lord. We should not lose heart.

But wisdom does not automatically come with aging: “It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right” (Job 32:9). With attention to God’s word and reliance on the Holy Spirit, young men may become wiser than the aged. “Gray hair” as “a crown of glory” is after all “gained in a righteous life” (Proverbs 16:31). Aging with wisdom requires daily appreciation of and reliance on the riches of Christ and deliberately applying them to the realities of life. Psalm 90:12 instructs: “So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

Perhaps a good way to “number our days” in this new year is to learn to live coram Deo. In the terminology of a world that stresses so much on mindfulness, to live coram Deo is to live one’s life mindful of the presence, authority, and glory of God. To live in the presence of God is to live under the gaze of God. God is omnipresent. There is no escape from His penetrating gaze.

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