when I am old and gray headed, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare
Your strength to this generation” (Psalm 71:18)
The aging process is so
interesting. For a time, we were little children and longed to grow up. Then
came a time of strength for most people, and for many, it’s also a time when we enter into denial about the future, for
so quickly that strength will be gone. Age sets in, and a process of
physical and mental weakening occurs, continuing until ultimately
nothing is left of the physical man or woman, and we thought we were so
strong - just a short time ago.
I have visited many in nursing and
convalescent homes, noting that some accept these events with a sigh and
a small smile, whereas others complain and become mean in spirit. The
difference for many is the Presence of the Holy Spirit. Without God,
life not only seems meaningless, it really is. “What was life
all about?” some wonder, and it's common for many to become angry about it.
It hurts to get old. And much like
it’s difficult for a person of any age to accept lowered income or
lessened abilities, it’s tough to give up the vigor of youth. To accept
the process that is occurring is important, for to refuse to accept that
you’re growing old is to risk a broken hip or other injuries. It’s a
time to think because you’re not only in physical danger, but if you
don’t know the Lord, you’re also facing a Christ-less eternity, which is
far worse than any physical problem we might think we have. There is
a time when we have to do LESS physically and MORE spiritually, because
denial of who you are (and who He is) is dangerous. We need the Lord.
Actually, there is a time to simply
give up, though not in the way we would expect. We give up trying to
do everything our way. One thing for sure: aging is no accident, and
the God who invented the process is not shy about admitting it. He was
clear to our original ancestor, that if he sinned, then death would
follow (Genesis 2:17). And it did.
Adam and his wife-to-be Eve, had no
idea what “death” was all about. Can you imagine that? They had no
idea what it was. It turned out to be a two-part phenomenon. Sin was
followed by instantaneous spiritual death – the intimate, personal
contact they had known with God and probably took for granted, was
severed. Suddenly, they were alone inside, in a way that had not even
occurred to them as possible. David’s cry, many centuries later, “Take
not Thy Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11), was an echo of the
grief that was personally known by our earliest ancestors.
The other part was physical death,
which involves a process, a gradual physical and mental weakening;
continuing until finally the organism no longer functions. Adam lived
for a long time and he observed this dreadful process of death in the
generations that followed. More than anything else, he was horrified by
the effects of sin in his children and children’s children. The concept
expressed in the phrase, “It’s all my fault!”
would have been very real and personal to him.
Millennia had now passed and another descendant of the original Adam
experienced a physical problem. The Apostle Paul was not to die of old
age, for the Lord would allow him what the military calls an "early
out". He was to be beheaded on the Appian Way, in Rome, in 66 AD. He
mercifully avoided some of the aging process and best of all, in his death he
glorified the Risen Lord. Paul did understand physical pain intimately
though, and personally knew the process of weakening in his life.
before his death, a "thorn in the flesh"
was given to him (2 Corinthians 12:7), and reasonably enough, he
repeatedly asked that it be taken away (2 Corinthians 12:7). The Lord
answered "No" to his request, stating,
"My grace is sufficient for you, for My
strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
us don't want that kind of answer to prayer, insisting to the Lord and
to anybody else who might listen, that somehow, pain, suffering,
weakness and eventual death, have no place in the lives of people like
you and me.
who LISTENED to the Holy Spirit, received God's "No", and he responded
this way: "Most gladly I would rather boast in
my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me, therefore I
take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions,
in distresses, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong"
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
to understand something that most people miss altogether: It's not all
about me. It's not about you. God has PURPOSES in what goes “wrong” in our lives and we may
NEVER in this life comprehend His reasons. Further, it's not my
strength the world needs. It's His! - And often we have to be weakened so
that we will open the gates of our resistance and allow His strength to flow through us. I have good news for you: Your
weakness, your suffering, your pain can make you become a very useful tool in the Hands
of a capable, loving God.
aging process shows us our need of Him. Our weakness FORCES us to reach
out for His strength. Often we would not even reach out to Him at all, except
for our need. As the Psalmist related to us in our Scripture for today:
"Now also when I am old and gray headed, O God,
do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation"
(Psalm 71:18). He saw his need of God and was drawn to tell others: We
need Him, too.
that is our prayer. Father, thank You for the weakness, the limitations
in my life. Let my weakness be an opportunity for Your strength to be
expressed through me, to the people of this generation. I commit myself to You
now, Lord, and pray that others will see Your strength in my life and want You, too.
In Jesus Name. Amen.