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Help, Lord, I'm Falling Apart!

by Stu Johnson

Posted: October 22, 2017

Calling on faith when your body starts to fail

No. 1 in the Thursday Morning Guys series

For the past couple of months, I have been attending the "Thursday Morning Guys" group at a church in our area.  It is a group of about a dozen men, most of them retired. Each week one of the “guys” volunteers to provide a topic for discussion.

The topics of these weekly gatherings have been wide-ranging, from light-hearted memories to others that strike at the heart of issues about aging. Most take on a spiritual dimension as the men discuss their experiences and observations as Christ-followers.  Even if you do not put yourself in that category, don’t stop reading now . . . .

The topic of our latest session was submitted by Ron, who gave permission to share the following discussion-starter:

HELP, LORD, I’M FALLING APART!

As I write this I’m at the audiologist’s office being tested for hearing aids.  I now get to see a doctor every month or so for one ailment or another.  I do feel like I am slowly, but relentlessly, falling apart.

Aging isn’t all that it is cut out to be.  With aging comes wisdom—but sometimes it just comes alone.  But always with aging come health issues for all of us.

So, I increasingly turn to medical science and to the Lord.

For our discussion

  • What have I learned about the physical problems that come from aging?
  • Does the statement “I’m not getting older, I am getter better” ring true?
  • What should my prayer to the Lord be about physically falling apart?

Here are just a few of the responses that came up at this session, mixed with some related conversations from past weeks and my own reflections.  Read through these, then consider your own responses (you don’t need to be a retired “guy” to do this!).

  • Since Ron’s comments began with a visit to an audiologist, my own experience with hearing loss spurred me to take a glass-half-full approach: unattended hearing loss has significant social consequences, forcing one to become withdrawn, with some research pointing to a link with the early onset of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.  Fortunately, being able to address hearing problems can be life-changing.
     
  • In a similar way, dental problems can impact the entire body and lead to numerous serous health threats and even death. Addressing hearing, vision and dental problems, however, can be very expensive and are often not covered under normal insurance, so it may be out of reach for many people. 
     
  • Ron, who brought the week’s topic, said he asked one of his doctors, who is also a Christ-follower, if he had any words of advice to the group about facing the sense of falling apart. To most doctors, this one suggested, patients are essentially a collection of cells whose condition needs to be assessed and, if possible, treated in some way. But, as a follower of Christ, he would add that we are all souls, with enormous worth and the hope of wholeness in eternity.
     
  • One of the group described the fear of facing knee surgery, a fear heightened by the death of a friend during a similar procedure. A group of friends laid hands on him and prayed, both for a successful procedure and for God’s comfort.  Instead of entering the surgery with fear, he found a “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7), for whatever outcome might result. (While laying on of hands may seem to belong to the realm of holy-rollers, it is actually a Biblically-based practice, used today primarily for those needing healing or to ask God’s blessing on one or more people.)
     
  • Others reflected on the difficulty of sustaining a positive attitude and strong faith through a chronic condition, long and difficult treatments, or the discouraging realization that over time “I’m just falling apart.”  You can’t go it alone. Family, a support group, church family, can all help provide a network of care.  In fact, as people care for you, your own compassion for others may very well increase.
     
  • A good phrase for Christ-followers to remember is “Magnify the cross and not the loss.”  Like a see-saw or scale, the two are opposites—dwell on the loss or pain or distress, and the reality of Christ’s love and comfort fades into the background, setting you up to become more depressed and hopeless; increase the focus on Christ and his work of grace in your life, and the sense of loss diminishes.  .
     
  • Related to that, a report was given of a visit that three of the men made to a friend who is critically ill. They have never heard one word of complaint in repeated visits. Instead, he is thankful for what he has (a nice room, food, people who look after him) . . . and uses his confinement as an opportunity to tell others about Jesus, with a number who are now Christ-followers because of his authentic faith and caring words.

How would you respond to Ron’s situation and the questions he posed? This can be a useful personal exercise, but even better if you have a circle of friends or another group that could discuss this topic with you.

If you want to learn more about the Jesus described here, see the various helps in the Seeking God section of the website.


Stu Johnson is principal of Stuart Johnson & Associates, a communications consultancy in Wheaton, Illinois. He is publisher and editor of SeniorLifestyle, writes the InfoMatters blog on his own website and contributes articles for SeniorLifestyle.

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Posted: October 22, 2017

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