By David Faust
Kayla pondered for a moment and then replied, “Medium old.”
You have to admire my granddaughter’s knack for diplomacy. As Robert Frost observed, “A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman’s birthday but never remembers her age.”
I don’t think about aging every day—just once in awhile, like when I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror and wonder, “Who’s that gray-haired man?” Or when I attend a high school reunion eager to see my teenage buddies, and instead a bunch of middle-aged men and women show up. I agree with the guy who quipped, “Age is a high price to pay for maturity.”
How should we deal with aging? Psalm 71 provides some helpful insights.
The psalmist says, “For you have been my hope, Sovereign lord, my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb” (vv. 5, 6).
Wise is the young woman who trusts in God instead of relying on her own talent and beauty. Wise is the young man who depends on God instead of relying on his own brains and brawn. It’s smart to “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1), for the vigor and opportunities of youth quickly fade.
Actress Farah Fawcett was a sex symbol in the 1970s, but cancer treatments claimed her famous hair before she died at age 62 in 2009. Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier were powerful boxers when they contended for the world heavyweight title in the 1975 bout known as the “Thrilla in Manila,” but things looked a lot different when Frazier died last year at age 67 and a frail Ali (struggling with Parkinson’s disease) attended the funeral of his longtime rival.
If you start serving the Lord early in life, you can look back and say, “Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds” (v. 17).
Pondering the other end of life, the psalmist prays in Psalm 71, “Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone” (v. 9). At any age, the worst form of loneliness is feeling estranged from God. The psalmist pleads, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come” (v. 18).
The Lord won’t forsake us when we are old and gray, and our later years will be greatly blessed if we remember that the purpose of life isn’t self-indulgence but serving the Master and declaring his power to the next generation. Senior adults never lack significance when they pray for their grandchildren, mentor young adults, and set a positive example in the church and community. The fruit of the Spirit ripens beautifully with age.
Mark Twain said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Whether you’re young, old, or “medium old,” nothing matters more than being able to tell the Lord sincerely, “As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more” (v. 14).
1. What does the prospect of growing older mean to you? Do you look forward to it? Why, or why not?
2. What can you do this week to “declare God’s power to the next generation”?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of the Lookout.
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of THE LOOKOUT.
Deuteronomy 27, 28
Deuteronomy 33, 34