Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent. But I will hope continually and will praise You yet more and more. Psalm 71: 9, 14
For years my husband and I used the familiar motto: “The Best is Yet to Come” regarding our hope of growing old together and enjoying long life. As I move into this season, alone, without him, I realize the “best is yet to come” applies more to heaven than years here on earth. I am writing this, not to make anyone fearful or concerned for me (or those like me!) but to shed some light on this topic.
Some folks think I am old, others who are older than I am think I am just learning about old age…hmm it is a matter of perspective. At 73, my body has begun to let me know that I have used my bones for 73 years. They are stiffer than they used to be and as the Psalmist has written, “forsake me not when my strength is spent”, because it takes me longer to replenish my strength than when I was younger.
A few years ago, several Church leaders I know across the U.S. went through health challenges. Some passed away from them. At the time, Darryl and I were strong and healthy. My heart hurt for them and their families. My perspective, we need to pray for them (but secretly I was glad it was them, not me!)Then April 2010, Darryl suffered his heart attack and massive stroke, and I entered what I call “a school of suffering”. After 2 1/2 years of caregiving, he passed. Our “the best is yet to come”, ended. God entered me into another “class”, the class of widowhood. Neither of these classes were electives, but required if I wanted to move ahead.
So far, in my “senior” journey, I’ve learned to adjust my expectations of what I think (or thought) life would be, or should be. Leaning into and onto my relationship with our God has been essential. Through the mysteries of life (like all the “whys”) I choose to trust His character. Watching many deal with health issues (including mental deterioration) is so sad, and I openly admit, has caused me a bit of anxiety when I wonder if that will be my situation. If I let myself, I wonder if I will become a dependent burden on my children. I choose to simply pray and do my best We have to decide that God is good. That He is working all things together for our good and no matter how easy or difficult our trials, we will choose to pray and praise Him.
I can not speak for every senior. My friends parents celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this year, but the wife had dementia for the past few years and had to be in a facility. Not easy, but her Dad loved his wife well till the end. Some of these trials are not about us, but they are to show forth the glory of the Lord, and leave a legacy of faith for those coming after.
My friends, no matter what stage of life you are in, you need to grow in faith. Whatever “school” you are in (marriage, parenting, leadership or employee etc.) those lessons will help prepare you for your “senior” years. Learning to trust Him in your own “whys” at whatever point you are in, will hold you in good stead as you grow older. Learning to love those around you, no matter what state they are in, will also be a blessing in your older years. It was hard to watch people around me treat my wonderful husband with disrespect because he was walking slow, or acting a “bit different”, but I learned from it. Every person has a story, don’t judge.
I’ve learned that, as we do trust Him, life can be good, even though it is different. I love my life, but still carry a sadness Darryl isn’t here to enjoy it with me. I am mostly healthy, I have great friends, a good church and God assignments that bring me joy and blessing. They are different than before, but that is ok. Keep walking my “senior” friends. Do not get discouraged. Do not quit. Do not think your influence for His kingdom’s sake is over. It is not. Prayer, praise and purpose are still ours–no matter what our numbers are bodies tell us! We choose to trust: I will be your God throughout your lifetime–until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. Isaiah 46:4 NLT What a wonderful promise.
Yes, it seems like some of our trials and tests seem to get harder as we age, but if we apply the lessons learned, we will pass them well. Open your eyes to God’s goodness. Sometimes loneliness is hard at our age–look out, find another lonely friend and do life together. Ask God for wisdom on how to turn every negative into a positive. He is still a very present time in every trouble.
Father, I thank you for loving us in every season of life. I thank you we can trust you, no matter what happens. I ask that you encourage the lonely, the ill and the struggling today–no matter their age. You are a good God, doing good things and we will not believe anything less, In Jesus’ Name, amen.