To bless others
With good health care services in Singapore, the city state now has the fourth-longest life expectancy in the world. This means that Singaporeans are living longer. We have about 1,000 centenarians. I hear of many saying they desire to live longer, healthier and be active as long as they can. When the time to die, they would die as fast as possible. An elderly lady once said, “All my useful days are gone. My children are all raised and they have their own homes. When they were small, I enjoyed cooking for them and mending their clothes. You see, I was needed then, but not now. Instead of being a blessing I am just a burden.” There is a tendency for senior citizens to feel that they have lost their usefulness.
King David felt the same dilemma in his old age. He prayed, “Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth” (Ps. 71:9). David felt that when physical strength was decreased people would do away with him because his relevance was gone. He was even afraid that God might cast him off in the time of old age. In verse 18 of this same psalm, David said, “Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come”. David wanted God to leave him here on earth to demonstrate the strength of God to the new generation and the power of God to their children who were yet to be born.
To testify for God
Someone said, “I’m not 80, I’m 18 with 62 years experience”. No matter how old we get, we can still be young at heart – but with the benefit of a well-lived lifetime of knowledge and wisdom. For this reason older people have a tendency to live in the past and to talk about the past, and I think God planned it that way so they would testify of His greatness and power that they experienced in years gone by. This can be a tremendous blessing to the present generation.
Growing old as a Christian is not something to fear, for David said in Psalm 71:14-16, “I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day; for I
know not the numbers thereof. I will go in the strength of the Lord God: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only”. In verse 15, David pointed out that he did not know how many days he had left: “I know not the numbers thereof”. But David made it very clear that he was going to spend this time talking about the Lord. In verse 16, David must have been thinking about the failing health of older people when he said, “I will go in the strength of the Lord God”. Though the physical body may be weak, God provides the strength that is needed. What resources God has are available to the elderly.
To bear fruit
Psalm 92 compares the believer to a palm tree. “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing” (vv. 12-14). In old age, the believer will bring forth fruit like the palm tree. The Christian is like the palm tree which can flourish in all circumstances. The palm tree grows even in the barren desert areas where no other plant life will grow. This is because the palm tree is not dependent on favourable circumstances for growth and fruitfulness. Authorities tell us that an old palm tree bears the sweetest fruit. It is apparent that God takes special interest in older people. In Isaiah 46:4 God says, “Even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs (the time of gray hair) will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you”. Yes, God made us and He will carry us through and will deliver us. As long as God puts us here, He has some work for us to do, and He will give us the grace and strength that is needed for each day. But perhaps some shut-in friend is saying right now, “I haven’t been out of my room for years. How can I serve the Lord here?” I would remind you that the ministry of intercessory prayer is a very vital one.
A good conclusion
At his old age, Moody was asked to grant permission for his biography. He refused, saying, “A man’s life should never be written while he is living. What is important is how a man ends, not how he begins”. While Paul was still in the Lord’s service, he feared that he might turn out to be just wood, hay, and straw rather than gold, silver and precious stone (1 Cor. 3:12-13). What will be the Lord’s appraisal of our lives is more important than someone evaluating us.