Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
There’s one fact of life that cannot be changed. And I’m talking about old age. It’s inevitable that you and I will grow old unless something happens to shorten our life, and I hope it won’t. If we were really honest, many of us have some fear about getting old. But we can’t avoid it.
I heard of someone who once said, I don’t intend to grow old gracefully—I intend to fight it every step of the way. Life is usually divided up into four periods: childhood, youth, middle age and old age. But it’s old age that causes the worries.
Maybe we’re worried about health issues as we age. It reminds me of the 82-year-old man who went to his doctor because his left knee was hurting. Well, what do you expect? said the doctor. After all, it’s an 82-year-old knee. The man replied, Sure is, but my right knee is also 82 and it’s not bothering me a bit.
Yes. It’s true that some people experience more health difficulties as they age, but not to the extent we think. There are many older people who are still in good health.
Doesn’t a lot depend on your attitude? An old Jewish proverb says, For the ignorant, old age is winter. For the learned, it’s a harvest. I think I know what was meant. Growing old does not mean that we grow to be sick, stupid or unproductive or unattractive, or to be like everyone else. Sometimes it does mean loneliness, physical decline or a retreat into inactivity. And some people tend to lose their enthusiasm for life and fall into self-pity.
But did you know that growing old gives us the opportunity to grow into full maturity, especially if we are Christians? Because it is then we see life as God has planned it for us. Instead of complaining about age, I think we should see that old age is a time of transition, change, adapting and coping.
A time of renewal
Certainly it’s a time to reflect and renew our mission in life. Think about notable people like Michelangelo, chief architect of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, working until he died at 89. The missionary, Hudson Taylor was 69 when still working on the mission field opening up new work in Indochina, and Moses led the people of Israel in the wilderness for 40 years until they reached the Promised Land. He died after this big job at 120 years. Socrates said:
I consider the old who have gone on before us, along a road which we must all travel in our turn. And it is good that we should ask them of the nature of that road.
It’s wonderful to know God’s Word has some great promises to the elderly. In Isaiah 46:4 (CEV) God says:
I will still be the same
when you are old and gray,
and I will take care of you.
I created you. I will carry you
and always keep you safe.
Have a look sometimes at Psalm 71, called, “The prayer of an elderly person.” In verses 17-18 (GNT) David wrote:
You have taught me ever since I was young,
and still tell of your wonderful acts.
Now that I am old and my hair is gray,
do not abandon me, O God!
Verse 9 (GNT) says:
Do not reject me now that I am old;
do not abandon me now that I am feeble.
David as an old man, knew something of the trials and tribulations of life, and wanted desperately for God to bless him in his advancing years.
The Bible says, “God blesses everyone who has wisdom and common sense. Wisdom is worth more than silver…Wisdom is a life-giving tree, the source of happiness for all who hold on to her.” (Proverbs 3: 13-14,18 – CEV)
And isn’t this word ‘wisdom’ applicable to old age? To grow old gracefully with self-respect and the admiration of others must surely be a worthy goal for all of us. I like the prayer from an old nun from the 17th Century. She prayed:
Lord, Thou knowest better than I myself
that I am growing older and will some day be old.
With my vast store of wisdom,
it seems a pity not to use it all;
but thou knowest, Lord,
that I want a few friends left at the end.
When we have faith in him, and a relationship with Jesus Christ as Saviour, we will enter old age with happiness and purpose. Sometimes we have to let go of the baggage of our past and not become bitter as the years advance.
Support Your Hope 103.2
There is hope for a better day tomorrow, for a better future for your family, your friends, your neighbourhood. Hope for a world in which love overcomes fear – and people are not divided but instead unite.