Getting Old Is Not for Sissies October 28 2016

(Part of BCF’S blog series: “Society, Selflessness, and the Scriptures")

I was at the drug store last weekend waiting in line for a prescription and a lady, advanced in years and a bit unsteady, came down the aisle with her walker looking quite anxious. She had just taken her husband home from the hospital and needed to get his prescription filled for antibiotics.  Those of us in the line gave her instantaneous priority.  

Multiply that by the millions, and you begin to understand the daily challenges of aging.  And most of us have been involved with this first hand, with aging grandparents, parents, and yes, even ourselves.  

My dad is turning 95 in just a few weeks.  Having just broken his hip three weeks ago, we can see the struggles even more than before.  In a recent phone call we joked about the quote attributed to Bette Davis that is the title of this blog:  “getting old is not for sissies.”  Very true.  Thankfully, he lives in a facility that can handle the different needs of seniors, from independent living to full nursing care.  We have been to dinner with him at this facility numbers of times, and it is here that I first heard about the table conversation referred to as “the organ recital.”  A sense of humor is very helpful to enduring the maladies of life.  

The Bible does not go into a lot of detail about the specific tribulations of old age.  There are references to losing one’s eyesight (Eli’s eyesight had begun to grow dim – I Samuel 3:2).  Abraham, Isaac, and others were said to have died as old men “ripe of age.”  There is mention of the need for a staff in old age (Zechariah 8:4).

But the Scriptures certainly remind us that our years on earth are finite.  “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and vanishes away” (James 4:14).  Some of the aging and end-of-life situations can be extremely difficult.  You can go back and read the April 1, 2016 blog “A Tribute to Care-Givers” for some biblical perspectives on aging and care-giving. Just click on A Tribute To Care-Givers .

But there is great encouragement in the Word of God for us as we age, such as:

  1. Recognize that we won’t live on earth forever.  As in Psalm 90:12: “So teach us to number our days, That we may present to you a heart of wisdom.”  Recognizing our earthly mortality reminds us that every day should be seen as a gift.  
  2. Be content with weaknesses.  Nowhere do thorns in the flesh abound more than in old age. Paul spoke of his own thorns (though not from old age) in 2 Corinthians 12:9 - “And He [He] has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’”  We can learn from this that exhibiting grace and contentment when suffering is a powerful example to others.  It is powerful because most people realize that having this response is not easy when one’s bodily functions are failing.  
  3. Minister to others as you are able – Biblical principles do not get suspended when we get old.  Even though we are not as physically able as we once were, we can still practice many of the “one anothers” – loving, serving, praying for, etc.  As long as the Lord allows our mind to function, there are ways to do these things.  
  4. For the believer, death is not to be feared.  It is a promotion. – “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).  This is the greatest and most comforting promise of all.

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Steve Smith