The aging process is a natural, God-ordained part of our earthly existence. Further, there are
elevated levels of respect which go with older people according to God’s plan. This was explicitly
set forth in the Mosaic law: “Thou shalt rise up before the [gray] head, and honor the face of the
old man, and thou shalt fear thy God: I am Jehovah,” (Lev. 19:32), and is a principle which runs
throughout the gospel as well, (cf. Mt. 15:4ff; Mk. 7:10ff). Age has its honor and advantages, yet
there are challenges we face when we enter our senior years. These should be recognized and
handled in an effective, Christlike manner.
1. Loss of physical strength. Instead of lingering in denial, we would be wise to recognize the
fact that there are some things we can no longer do. Physical strength is diminished, “in the day
when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the
grinders cease because they are few,” (Eccl. 12:3). It’s a mistake to stubbornly insist that we can
do everything we used to do. This attitude tends to exclude participation by younger people, and
alienate us from those who can clearly see our failings. Happily, there are many younger people
who are eager to step up and assist. We need to encourage them and allow them to do as God
intended. Graciously accepting and encouraging the help of younger people helps them to be
“sober-minded,” (Titus 2:6)—a trait of young people far too rare these days.
2. Loss of mental agility. Response time, the time it takes the brain to respond to stimuli,
increases as we age beyond a certain point. Can a 80-year-old man drive as well as a 40-yearold?
Almost always, studies show the answer is no. It’s not because the senior driver has forgotten
how to drive, or lacks the physical strength, it’s a matter of slowing response time. This fact does
not come easily to aging drivers, especially men, who are accustomed to being “the captain of
the ship.” Still, we need to acknowledge that in some cases there are activities better performed
by the younger folks. Wise elders in the church will encourage the involvement of the next
generation, and respect their abilities. Grandparents should acknowledge that some situations are
now better handled by their children.
3. Loss of friends and companions. There is a constant need in life to cultivate new friendships,
but sometimes this reality is driven home in senior years. The smallest funeral crowds go with
the oldest decedents. It’s important to reach out to the younger crowd, and take an interest in their
lives. We need to try to avoid isolation as we grow older, which can be disheartening and
dangerous. “Many friends who journeyed with me in the bright days of the past have preceded
me to glory and I linger here at last.” Try to be flexible, and go along with the younger folks
when you can. This is highly preferable to being left behind.
4. Increased emphasis on medical issues. This is only natural, but we need to be careful that
we do not allow it to consume every conversation in our lives. No one, especially no young
person, wants to listen to a 20-minute detailed description of our latest aches and pains. This is a
hard reality of life, but it may help us to consider it in advance. It is not that others don’t care, it’s
just that they have lives of their own which need attention. All of us need to show interest in our
seniors, and including the difficulties associated with their medical problems. But by the same
token, we seniors need to “suck it up” and remember that such issues are a normal part of getting
old. We cannot expect our children and other youngsters to give up their own lives and
continually commiserate with us.
5. Changing Values. What consumed our interest in younger years suddenly seems so
unimportant to us as we enter old age. Raising children, buying a house, paying off educational
debt, advancing in a career, and a hundred other concerns of middle-age, often fade into
irrelevance as we become seniors. Try to remember them! Try even harder to remember the
excitement of youthful accomplishments and special events—like your first car, your first date.
These things still matter to the young, so take an interest in them yourself.
Growing old is normal and natural, and it does not have to be a bitter experience. God created us
to live in thanksgiving and glory—at every stage of our lives.
– by Robert C. Veil, Jr.