‘Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it.’     

The ancient text speaks to the core of our being – God created, and God shaped each of us uniquely. Our identity is defined by who we are and not what we do. Sometimes we lose our perspective and critique ourselves way too harshly.

It seems somewhat macabre to refer to suicide, but tragically our nation’s suicide rates are, according to the ABS, still troubling. Suicide is a prominent health concern for all of us. Over a five year period from 2009 to 2013, the average number of suicide deaths per year was 2,461. The highest age-specific suicide rate for males in 2013 was observed in the 85+ age group (38.3 per 100,000).

This prompts the question – why is this? I suspect that for many, as life begins to close and health somewhat deteriorates, we lose any sense of hope, meaning or purpose. Call me idealistic but I’d like to arrest this trend. There is profound hope and joy found by following Jesus.

Can I suggest the narrative and the statistics can be changed by the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit transforming us in power? How we as the church value our seniors, their dignity and their contributions is a conversation of utmost importance. 

Fresh Hope has just this week initiated our ‘Recharge’ cohort for over 50’s, encouraging a next season for those who would dare trust that God is still at work. Our world tends to discredit the contributions of the frail and ageing, but the church must surely value the wisdom and insight found in their years. The American Poet Walt Whitman in 1892 penned a poem titled ‘O Me! O Life!’ The poem grapples with the ultimate question, why am I here? Whitman’s response: ‘That you are here – that life exists and identity, that the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.’

I suspect our verse is not what we do, but who we are. True life is experienced as ‘posture towards God and others’. May you have the courage to use your life to serve those around you.

Andrew Ball