Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsSaturday 11 Dec 2021Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 3 minutes
I once heard about an elderly lady who lived alone. She was partly crippled, and had to rely on the good will and help of neighbours. It wasn’t an easy time, and she felt really isolated. To fill in the long days and nights she kept a diary. Her neighbours wondered why she bothered because she didn’t go out much.
But she had lived a long life, and was a committed Christian who had attended church years earlier. Eventually she died. But tragically it took a few days before anyone knew. When her neighbour went through her belongings, he found the diary. Most of the book contained little of interest, except three words she had written on different days, No-one came. No-one came.
Researchers in this country say that one in four people live alone. That’s quite a high figure. As the population increases and ages, so do the number of those living with chronic illness. And this is a real concern. This may mean being alone at home with less capacity in terms of function, mobility and access to social activities. Others living alone will not have family or close friends, managing sometimes with the help of neighbours or local community resources such as community health services, local councils and the church, or sometimes with no help at all.
Some will refuse all offers of help, however there are often safety implications in these choices for the health professionals who interact with them. Thank God for agencies like Meals on Wheels. At least with food delivery, there is a friendly person to say hello.
Loneliness—A common problem among older people
Loneliness and social isolation are the two biggest problems facing older people today, for those who choose to live alone. They may develop arthritis or lose their confidence to get out and meet others. And there is loneliness and inability to get around. There have been some shocking stories in the media in recent years of elderly people who die, their bodies left to decompose, unnoticed for months. One lady was not discovered for seven years. There is something basically wrong here. It was Jesus who said, “Love others as much as you love yourself” (Matthew 22:39). It’s a simple message but Jesus said this is the “second most important commandment” (after loving God). It needs to be taken seriously.
The respected church leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, “We have been made for God, for gentleness. And we have been made for caring, sharing, and compassion”. We applaud organisations who care for the elderly—for the nursing profession, full of dedicated and good men and women who choose to work in this area of aged care. But it goes much deeper than that.
The Bible is consistent and clear in its message about those who are least able to fend for themselves.
In the Old Testament, God mentions widows and orphans among those who should be singled out for special care and protection (Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 27:19). Jesus continues this pattern of divine care by heaping scorn on those who would go so far as to foreclose on widows’ homes (Matthew 23:14). James even says that caring for widows and orphans are the premier fruits of true worship of God. He says in James 1:27, “Religion that pleases God the Father must be pure and spotless. You must help needy orphans and widows…”
The Bible says God is not pleased with people who would take advantage of either the blind or deaf, making their wellbeing a matter of justice (Deuteronomy 27:18–19); that is, we owe justice to the widow, orphan, and those who may be disadvantaged in our society. It is clear from even the most cursory reading of the Scriptures that God desires justice for all people. In other words, we must not take advantage of the weakest members of our society—those least likely to stand up for themselves.
The wonderful fact from the Bible is that God cares for the elderly. He loves them. Isaiah 46:4 says: “Even to your old age and grey hairs I am he. I am he who will sustain you” (NIV).
If God has such tender feelings towards the senior citizens, how can we ignore them, as if they are none of our business.