This is the introductory blog of an ongoing series that will periodically answer the simple question: What might it mean for older adults to claim that they are still “fearfully and wonderfully made?” The questions will be familiar; the answers may not be….
According to the Hebrew Scriptures, we can find comfort—perhaps amazement—in realizing that we are wonderfully constructed organisms. (“Fearfully” as in awe-inspiring, and “wonderfully” as in ineffable.) The more we know about ourselves, the deeper the mystery, and the greater the admiration.
This matter is something we can gratefully accept and treasure when we’re younger, when everything seems to be working fine, and when our visits to doctors are few and far between. Systems hum along, seemingly without our prayer. As a matter of course, our physical and mental capabilities increase. Our bodies may be attractive, something from which we can derive great pleasure.
But eventually our fearfully and wonderfully made bodies and brains get old. Illness or injury can diminish their capabilities. Gravity can drag down our physical attractiveness. Repeated abuse—eating too much, not exercising, living stressfully—can chip away at systems, and they start to break down. Eventually, our bodies morph into shapes we may not like and our brains into creaky entities we can’t explain.
The end result? We may be afraid to ask, “Am I STILL fearfully and wonderfully made?” And at this stage in life, we could start to think the opposite, as in “My body and brain are embarrassing or worse.”
In occasional entries here, I want to walk alongside you with this necessary assurance: Yes, even now, our bodies and brains are still worth admiration, awe and gratitude. It’s something I think that God wants us to know and believe!