Old Age: Bonus Or Burden?

February 27, 2014
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One Sunday in November, we had a reception after church to recognize the members of our congregation who are over 90. There were ten of them; some were in attendance, others were not. And looking at the age of the members of our congregation makes us say quite often, "Nothing but old people; how long can we go on this way?" It is indeed a problem, but also a blessing.

Sometimes, older people, even though they are able to participate, will give up. Barzillai was one of them. He had been a servant to King David, and he was asked to join the king in Jerusalem, but this is what he said:

2 Samuel 19:34-35 – How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? I am today eighty years old. Can I discern between the good and bad? Can your servant taste what I eat or what I drink? Can I hear any longer the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be a further burden to my lord the king? (NKJV)

One time, we attended a church while on a trip. It was Mother's Day, and there were about two hundred people at worship. The minister asked all the mothers over 70 to stand up. There was one. I thought, This is great! A whole church full of young people! And then it dawned on me that there was something wrong. Perhaps the older people did not feel at home there, and they went elsewhere.

Sometimes, people of advanced years are discouraged by the younger generation. But there are exceptions. When I worked on a big pipeline project in the Middle East many years ago, we needed a considerable number of pipeline inspectors to make sure that the project was built according to our specifications. We had a number of retired men who did this work for us. Most of them had worked for a major oil company and were retired at an earlier age. They loved their work; they knew what they were doing; their children were grown; they loved to travel; and they were very experienced. One time, we had a welding inspector who was 73. They were great people, all of them.

We should thank the Lord for all the old people in the church, who, when they and we were young, taught us the fundamentals of our faith. Oh, I'm sure some of us thought it was pretty boring at the time, but oh! the things they taught us. We should thank the Lord for all the old people in our churches today, for all the work they do. It is impossible to single them all out; none of us has any idea how much work they do.

Certainly, we want young, hard-working Christians to join us; we want babies in the nurseries and the Sunday School bursting at the seams; but we also need old people; we want their experience, their wisdom, their knowledge, their love, their patience; we want their enthusiasm and their good humour. The church needs us, and we need the church.

Psalm 71:18 – Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come. (NKJV)

We know that God never forsakes us, regardless of our age. We all can do God's work, each one of us in our own way.

Old age, bonus or burden? … Bonus, definitely!

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we pray that we older people can still be used to bring Your Word to those around us. We pray for strength and the desire to keep doing Your work. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

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About the author:

Joel Jongkind <austria67@bmts.com>
Meaford, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:


    Thank you Joel.

    Good reminder Joel.

    A lovely devotional re “older people”. I’m almost there!!

    Dear Joel,
    Good thought!

    Joel – this is great. A different way of looking at our “older” folks for sure. Thanks for this good devotion and meaningful words. May God continue to bless you.

    Thank you for your devotional. Many older people have so much to contribute. And every year we get people older and older doing more and more.

    Your longing for younger people in your congregation is so very obvious.
    This old person is praying for you.
    May God bless your church with His people — in abundance.

    Thank you for your devotional today. As a 76 year old with many dear friends who are much older, I embraced your thoughts and prayer. May our churches respect the wisdom of our elders. (age) May God bless your ministry.

    Dear Joel:
    I’m glad someone appreciates the oldsters. That is all we have in our congregation.
    I miss the baby sounds and bright young people.

    It might be better if you used the term “older”. You will understand when you are “older” yourself. Active at age 77 with a husband still teaching in university, the term “old” needs rethinking!
    However, your intention was kind!

    Thank you for this, Joel. Our congregation is also comprised mostly of older people who need encouragement to “hang in there”. We have a new, younger, and very dynamic minister who shows great respect for them but I know they are still worried about being left out. I’d like to use this devotional in our upcoming newsletter.

    Dear Joel,
    Your devotional touched my heart. One of my best friends is elderly and she is one of the most interesting persons I know. It’s a shame many of the younger generation do not take the time to appreciate and learn from the older folks. Thank you for writing this important message.

    Thank you for your uplifting message to US older folks. I sometimes feel completely out of the loop as I am no longer active on any CHURCH committee after being involved for over 60 years. I know it is time for the younger people to step up and take these leadership roles. We as older people can have more time to PRAY and study the WORD. Each stage in our life God has a place in HIS army. Thanks again for reminding us we too are needed in CHURCH.
    (Tx USA)

    This is a truth God has been teaching me. I do not have the physical stamina I once did, but I realize He has changed the type of assignments He is now giving me to allow for my physical changes. He is also using the talents he has given me in a different capacity, and I have the wonderful blessing of experiencing the reality of His presence in a way I never knew when I was younger.
    Bless you for sharing this Devotional. While I joke about refusing to act my age, I also am aware of His leading and guidance more and more.

    Thanks Joel for today’s message. We just returned from an exhausting but very pleasurable trip Australia. We encountered a large number of older people who were enthusiastic about new adventures in spite of the aches and pains of travel. They (and us also) marvelled at the beauty, simplicity, complexity, and wonderment of the world in which we live. Many of these oldsters were an inspiration in many ways… pursuing new experiences in spite of aches, pains and walkers.
    So, as always thanks for your devotion and today’s message.

    Thanks Joel. I’ve been feeling a wee bit useless since I turned 70. That’s 20 more years until I’m 90! I think I’ll sit up taller and remember your words, and keep working. We really do need all ages together in order to keep our lives in perspective whatever our age. God bless, and keep writing.
    I always look forward to my morning read. All of the writers seem to have such a great way of encouraging others and deepening our understanding. It always seems to help when I read of someone else’s struggle with similar difficulties/challenges and I can tell that getting old is going to be a challenge of great proportions!

    What a delightful message to read! Thank you! It is so often emphasized that we need to fill the nursery and Sunday School and provide opportunities for youth which we all agree is of import. However rarely do we hear kudos for the stalwart older generation which has indeed held many churches together for years quietly providing food for the body mind and spirit. We are indeed in the midst of transition and we all struggle to find the right path for our congregation but we do need the steadfast support of this amazing group to work along with the Holy Spirit in finding our way forward. It is gratifying to hear of them being honoured. Again thank you as we continue our journey.

    Thank you for your topic for today’s devotional as just yesterday I was at a women’s institute celebration. This was celebrating the founders birthday. A 100 year old woman cut the cake and gave a memory lane talk of being a young active member of this branch. She is a wealth of history and the youth of today adored her. I’m only 80 and am still active with community volunteering and enjoying life working with kids. Those wonderful kids keep us young and we can learn from them if we just listen. The oldest living person in Canada is a lady who is 113. As we get older we can enjoy life more as we do not know when our final graduation day will come so just enjoy what time we have left here.

    Hello Joel: Yes, I am one of the oldies. Your words were indeed apt. Blessings to you and yours.

    Yes, Joel. Amen.
    I’m 84, and I’m delighted when a teen-ager comes to greet me — a teenager I once taught in Sunday School.
    I’m glad you found those Bible verses.
    Yes, keep writing. You are useful in the kingdom of God.

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