Many times I have heard people use the expression “The good die young.” It is often used to try to soften the effect of someone young passing away, but it is hogwash. Someone good might indeed die young. Our savior Jesus experienced His earthly death at a young age. No other human has ever been as good as He was. Noah died at the age of 950. It would be a stretch to call that young in any possible way. Yet Noah belonged to God and dedicated his life to serving Him and showing His glory. I believe Noah would be considered good. The choices we make in life can certainly affect how long we live, but the length of our earthly life doesn’t depend on our being “good” or “bad.”
I considered these thoughts because of a recent news item. Lucile Randon, known as Sister Andre, died on January 17, 2023 at the age of 118. She was recognized as the oldest living person on Earth. In 3 more weeks she would have reached 119. Sometimes at my current age I feel old and I am roughly half that age.
It is somewhat staggering to read of the things that she related as influences in her life. She spoke of learning a new word, “electricity,” when electric lights came to her school in the early 1900’s. She said that the day she felt happiest was Armistice Day, which marked the end of World War I, and she was able to be reunited with her soldier brother. She lived through the worldwide Spanish flu epidemic in 1918 as a teenager. She was baptized at age 26, and dedicated herself to service as a nun in the Catholic Church with the Daughters of Charity 15 years later. She was assigned to work at a hospital in Vichy (occupied) France during World War II and worked there 31 years. She spent much of her life serving orphans and the elderly. She kept working in active service to others to the age of 108. She lived at a nursing home in Toulon, France, and became the oldest person to recover from COVID in 2021. Until her death she was recognized for trying to positively influence her neighbors.
When asked about the reason for her longevity she replied “Only the good Lord knows.” She believed that continuing to work helped keep her going. She also ate chocolate and drank a glass of wine daily. I think there is some benefit from blending enjoyment in life with fulfilling work. She echoed Paul’s belief that she would be better off in Heaven (“I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” (Philippians 1:23-24)). As she aged she lost her eyesight, and had trouble hearing. Her body became weaker, but her mind and spirit kept her trying to benefit those around her. In one of her last interviews she said “People should help each other and love each other instead of hating. If we all shared that, things would be a lot better.”
I don’t know if I will die this year or if I will live to be 100. To borrow Sister Andre’s line, “Only the good Lord knows.” It is a bit overwhelming to think about living to 100. In any case her life serves as both an example and a challenge. I can only hope to be as faithful and as useful to God and His service when I am at an advanced age. Our society seems to make us feel that we become less valuable as we get older. Is it possible that in God’s sight we become even more valuable?
Take heart and be encouraged!