…even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save. Isaiah 46:4 RSV

Old age has surprised me. If I expected anything, I expected it to move in like a thief, steal one or two small abilities, then run away again. What I got was an assassin who jumped from an alley and left me beaten and bleeding, gasping for air like a beached fish.

That’s what this winter was like.

Turns out I have a condition called congestive heart failure—something many of you know well but I’ve never heard of before. As one doctor put it, it’s a pump problem: the heart is just not able to process the fluids in my body as efficiently as it once did, leaving me swollen, most noticeably in my legs. They are heavy, hard to raise; the joints don’t work well. Walking is difficult; climbing stairs worse. Putting on pants, socks, shoes is a real challenge…especially before I went online and found these wonderful shoes I can just step into.

And the support stockings–! Imagine, if you will, a balloon covered with wet tissue paper. Your task is to pull heavy elastic over the balloon without ripping the tissue paper. No wonder we’ve made multiple trips to urgent care and the wound clinic with dripping legs. Last week I had a gusher of blood and serum all over the bathroom from the simple act of trying to pull up a stocking that had rolled down my leg. That wound is still healing…and may be so for a while.

So where is God in all this? I’ll confess I asked that question more than once.

The answer is: where He promised to be, with me. I prayed to be lifted out of the situation. That didn’t happen. What He did, and what He’s still doing, is walking me through it.

I’ve been surrounded by caretakers—my husband, my family, doctors, nurses, physical therapists, people from my church, friends. When I was younger, I could be the one giving help. Now it’s time to humble myself and receive it.

“For everything, there is a season,” wrote the wise man, long ago. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

God bears, carries, saves us through this stage, too, as He promised. He weans us from earth as He prepares us for heaven—where there will be no failures of any kind.

Even of our hearts.

FATHER GOD: This old age thing—it’s tough and humiliating. Help me to humble myself and receive Your help as You give it through Your people. Help me accept what I cannot change. Amen.

First published in “Bozeman Daily Chronicle,” March 27, 2022.