Normally, the idea of powered exoskeletons evokes images of futuristic super soldiers, given massive boosts of strength and agility thanks to their motorized outerwear. In the November 29, 2017 devotion from Our Daily Bread, David McCasland shares about the R70i Age Suit, an exoskeleton that is put on and which makes you feel like you are 40 years older. The Age Suit was designed to help caregivers better understand their patients and to empathize with what it is like to experience aging by adding on weight, restricting movement, and simulating a number of age-related conditions that give users a feel for the types of medical issues people have as they grow older.
In an online article (Jan 8, 2016) from www.theverge.com, Loren Grush tells about her experience testing out the Age Suit. She put on a VR-type headset that demonstrated ailments concerning eyesight. The headset blurred and distorted her vision to simulate cataracts or macular degeneration. Then she was fitted with headphones that mimicked what the world would sound like if she had hearing problems. One such problem, aphasia, makes you feel as if everything you say is echoed back to you. The result was that she slurred her speech when she talked.
Next, Grush donned an exoskeleton that wrapped her body, demonstrating how mobility becomes limited in old age. Motors surrounding her joints added resistance to her arms and legs, simulating what rheumatoid arthritis and degenerating muscles are like. She nearly fell over when she tried to walk. No wonder the elderly often use walkers or canes. Even when her limbs were unrestricted again, she still had an extra 40 pounds weighing her down from the suit itself, a reminder that most people generally gain weight when they grow older since they cannot get adequate exercise due to movement restriction and pain.
Thinking about the R70i Age Suit reminds me of what God did for us at Christmastime when he left the glory of Heaven to be born as a frail baby who would go through life in order to fully empathize with and experience our human condition. Hebrews 2:17-18 tells us that Jesus was made like us, “fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
As you marvel in this season at God’s willingness to show great empathy and compassion for you at Christmastime by coming to stand with you, may you become like him, standing with others during their time of need—not just in this season of Christmas, but every day throughout the year.
Working together with you to proclaim the Reason for the season,