We were hosting friends recently when the husband in the family remarked how getting older seems to be all about changes – people you love pass away, you and your friends age, your children grow up, and you discover there are things you used to do that you just can’t do anymore. His statement got me thinking—no wonder older folks get discouraged at times. There will always be changes in life, that’s true; but it shouldn’t be that all of them are only negative!
People we love may have gone on before us, but there are others still here we can strive to love better. Our children do grow up, but we can learn to delight in them as adults as well. Then, too, there is the opportunity of growing the family a different way—through marriages and grandbabies. We may have to slow down, but God still has a purpose for our lives; we just need to ask Him to help us find it. There may be things we can’t do anymore, but each day should still bring new experiences—a call, a letter, a new book or article to read or something new to think about, a visit, a plant or animal to tend, a song to hear or to learn, a project to continue, some work only we can do. Health challenges may multiply, but help and comfort from those nearby should abound as well.
Those of us who are younger have a responsibility to family and friends (and any others God brings to our attention) who are now older and who may be feeling forgotten or overwhelmed. What if we took it upon ourselves as a serious duty to make sure the elderly in our circle have more positive than negative experiences? What if we tried to ensure that they continually have something to look forward to? This would mean committing to writing the letters, making the calls, planning the activities, hosting the meals (or delivering them), cheerfully listening to the same stories, pitching in with whatever they have that needs doing, inviting them along on outings or bringing them into our homes, and coming alongside in prayer.
It’s not so much to ask when you think about it. It’s only what we would want someone else to do for us someday. Take time to talk together as a family about the older men and women God has placed in your life. Seek what He would have you to do to that might make their lives richer, fuller, more meaningful, and happier – more like waiting for the call on the cool and pleasant riverbanks of Beulah and less like trudging through the miry Slough of Despond. And don’t be surprised when in seeking to uplift others, you find yourselves encouraged as well.
For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.
Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.
Copyright © 2022
* Note: The picture book Mrs. Katz and Tush by Patricia Polacco could serve as a good introduction to this topic for children.