by Timothy W. Tron July, 2022
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new;” – 2 Cor. 5:17
You know the feeling. We’ve all had them at one time or another. It had been one of those spiritual dry spells where it felt as if God was not listening to your prayers. Reading the word seemed difficult. Nothing seemed to be sinking in. It was as if there was a disconnect between Heaven and Earth. Searching for something, a sign, a voice, anything that would awaken the spirit within, my hand reached for the radio dial and tuned to a Christian music station. The gray morning landscape passed by the car windows – looming mountains shrouded in misty somberness slept peacefully.
The coffee had yet to sink in when something on the airwaves caught my ear, “I know there’s gonna be some brighter days,” the voice sang.
Within an instant, my thoughts turned toward today’s youth and how they faced a seemingly uphill battle. For some, they have yet to know brighter days. For the collegiate individual, their time has been spent since their youth in scholastic endeavors, some now in their early twenties, still seeking to find themselves in an ever-increasingly dark and bitter world. But, then, at the same time, in a parallel stream, my mind thought of the elderly and how they, if allowing themselves the pity of afterthought, began to dwell on what once was comparing it today, would likewise find themselves seeking brighter days ahead. It was then the comparative contrast of the two was born and how each should hear of the other and be reminded that they are not alone.
And the song continued, “I swear that love will find you in your pain. I feel it in me like the beating of life in my veins. I know there’s gonna be some brighter days.”
When we think about it, we find two vastly separate age groups with potentially similar dismal or enlightened trajectories, depending upon where they are in life. Two distinct paths for each, both similar and both different but for obvious reasons. In each thread, there exists a level of anxiety, or as the song reminds us, pain: the student and the elderly both fear the unknown, but the latter’s eminent destination is far more grave – death. No one can escape it. One’s fear is far less severe than the other, yet each is embraced with equal resolve, or at the very least, should be. Graduation from an institution of learning is a joyous occasion. Yet, we don’t always perceive the graduation to our Heavenly home as such. For some, without a hope of a greater tomorrow, their earthly existence is all there is. When it stops, so does their hope – therein lies the potential for one’s anxiousness. In each graduation, there can be joy, or there can be anxiety. In life, one can find this contrast often. Like most terrestrial encounters, the life experience is almost always an infinitesimal glimpse of what the heavenly experience will provide. In this vain, we continue the comparison and share how the detrimental aspects can be lessened or completely erased when one finds themselves in the preferred spiritual frame of mind.
The melody continued as the dark peaks slowly emerged from the shadows of darkness, “Oh, ashes fall from burning dreams. On, never lived through times like these. Oh, if you’re trying hard to breathe in the dark, In the dark. I know there’s gonna be some brighter days (yes, I do).“
Some say age is the great equalizer. Those dreams of fortune and fame fall like ashes from the burning flames of life. Reality begins to set in and childhood fantasies are replaced with the daily grind of existence. Before you know it, you’ve passed middle age and your body begins to falter. In our youth, we recover from ailments more quickly, but as most know, the more advanced in years you become, the slower those muscle strains dissipate – some become chronic, lasting a lifetime. My earthly father had almost all of his major joints replaced with man-made devices. Yet, even after all that, his pain persisted to the point he would say, “I know the day that I wake up, and there is no more pain is the day that I’ll know I’m dead.” His point was in heaven, there will be no more pain, no more sorrow. The body’s ability to regenerate often becomes the distraction to which many become victims. The soul’s health doesn’t seem as important when you feel immortal. But the day will come when all of that youth has passed away, and then, in those twilight years, some become painfully aware of the fallacy of their childish convictions. To make the point, imagine yourself in a stadium at a rock concert full of college-age students. A band is blasting wailing guitars through mountainous speakers, people are screaming, and you can barely hear your own voice. Meanwhile, your best friend is trying to tell you their most intimate life story. All you see are their lips moving and the roar of the crowd. Here and there, you catch a word, maybe recognizing the formation of the lips into something intelligible, but most of what is said is missed. When you leave, your friend feels like they have poured out their soul to you, but you feel little to nothing. There was just too much in the way. In that sense, many of us found religion in our youth precisely like those two in the concert. God was there for us. Maybe a youth minister spoke to us passionately, but we couldn’t hear them for the interference that surrounded our lives; the hormones raging, the chat texts blowing up, the fast times cruising the strip, or whatever led you astray – they all stood as an obstacle to knowing the Father.
In our youth, we don’t have the life experiences from which to draw. When we are young, the consequences of our actions are buffered by our body’s ability to recover from them if they are minor enough. Yet, in advanced age, those ailments become burdens. On the opposite end of the spectrum, those worldly pleasures are enhanced by our body’s youthfulness. Desires of the flesh are much more gratified by the hormone-induced will than that of the geriatric patient who barely has feeling in their extremities. One can’t help but to want to sin in our youth, while the elderly becomes numb to its sensation, allowing for the reception of the more spiritual aspect of life to become more significant. Here in this comparison, we can find how much more easily an elderly person might become a follower of Christ than a young person. Here too, we can see how much more unique and beautiful it is when we find a young person that is a faithful follower of Christ – because they have found, through God’s Grace, the ability to overcome those earthly temptations with the aid of the Holy Spirit. This is, of course, not meant to diminish the elderly believer’s faith. Likewise, some have lived in sin their entire lives, and to finally in old age, to realize that their whole lives were lived in darkness. Is this not just as monumental? Finding Christ in their later years is indeed as much a blessing as those young folks who find Him. Which brings us to this revelation: Regardless of age, salvation is priceless.
Either way, the act of regeneration of the body and soul is not easy at any age. As Paul wrote to Timothy, “Thou, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” There will always be struggles when one seeks to become a follower of Jesus. The graduate must learn to balance starting a new career while daily reminding themselves who they serve. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”
Everything is a new frontier, a new challenge waiting to happen. Like those potential college graduates, the future has much to hold. Like the believer, the one who knows that when they pass from this life to the next, there will be an experience waiting that has no comparison. As a believer, the things of this world take on new meaning, new purpose. Again, these are only minute snapshots of our eternal home. We’ve read throughout the Bible the various prophecies of heaven and all that it holds, but in truth, no one on earth knows. Like those students with whom I recently asked about what their future would be like when compared to an elderly person, they could only see it from the bright side of youthful optimism. In essence, both are saying, as scripture tells us, “Death has no sting.” Christ defeated death on the cross so that we may have eternal life.
Physically, dying is hard. Even if the pain is removed, the eventual separation from our loved ones, that departure, is brutal. To some, the anxiety, whether from losing a loved one to the loved one going on to glory, is by far the greatest of all sufferings. In our own pain of loss, we often wish those that have died to come back, to return into our presence so that we can go on living as before. How selfish is that? C.S Lewis described wanting his beloved wife, Joy, to return from death like this. “What sort of a lover am I to think so much about my affliction and so much less about hers? Even the insane call, ‘Come back,’ is all for my own sake. I never even raised the question whether such a return, if it were possible, would be good for her. I want her back as an ingredient in the restoration of my past. Could I have wished her anything worse? Having got once through death, to come back and then, at some later date, have all her dying to do over again? They call Stephen the first martyr. Hadn’t Lazarus the rawer deal?”
Herein lies the perspective from the opposite side of the coin. When one doesn’t have the gift of salvation, when all they know is only what this world has to offer, there is a genuine and foreboding sense of dread when facing the end. Whether it’s the end of the college career or the end of life alone, we often feel inadequate or helpless. Some mask their fears with an overabundance of optimism, only to cry themselves to sleep in the loneliness of a long dark night. Through the pandemic, we heard stories of depression and abandonment. Suicide rates skyrocketed as many who based their lives on the secular world’s existence became abandoned, castaways in their own homes. Even the believers who could not fellowship with others felt the pain of what it was to be like Christ on the cross when God seemed to abandon him. The separation from God is a fate worse than death. And so, we can find that without Him, we are nothing. There is no hope, no future, nothing beyond this life. Those who ignore the calls to join his flock, to become a believer, are like those students who quit and give up and find themselves forever regretting their decisions. While their choice to drop out of school is not for an eternity, and some do recover and have a successful life, their choices early in life affect the remainder of their earthly life. However, unlike a career choice, the spiritual decision has much graver consequences. The choice we make here in our short time on earth will impact our eternal life – damnation in hell or eternal bliss in heaven.
Finally, the song concluded as the sunrise broke through the clouds. As I parked my car, the morning’s glow reflected in the lake nearby. The words to the song matched the beauty of the scene before me, warming my heart with a feeling only God can provide. “I know there’s gonna be some brighter days, I swear that love will find you in your pain, I feel it in me like the beating of life in my veins. I know there’s gonna be a brighter day.“
In the end, no matter the age, God’s love is there for us. We only have to accept him into our lives, confess our sins, believe that he died, rose from the grave and now sits at the right hand of the Father, and we too can know Him.
Your salvation is up to you.
There is no age limit. Yes, there can always be a brighter day.
Thanks be to God!
 “Brighter Days” by Blessing Offor, https://youtu.be/I6lp1Oxb9L4
 2 Timothy 2:1-4 KJV
 Colossians 3:23-24 KJV
 A Grief Observed. Copyright © 1961 by N. W. Clerk, restored 1996 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Preface by Douglas H. Gresham copyright © 1994 by Douglas H. Gresham. All rights reserved.