By David Faust
No one wants to fade into irrelevance like an old yellowed newspaper—yesterday’s news. A woman who used to turn heads when she walked into a room now turns her own head away from the mirror and wonders if anyone still finds her attractive. A man once admired for his skill on the playing field realizes he can’t compete with younger athletes anymore. A retiree misses the rhythm of daily work. An older church member finds that her opinions are rarely solicited.
Sweet Success Slipping Away
Perhaps even worse than losing his health and his wealth, Job faced the loss of significance. He pined for the good old days and reflected, ”How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me. . . .
Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, . . . when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me” (Job 29:2, 4, 5).
Job missed the respect he used to receive. ”When I went to the gate of the city and took my seat in the public square, the young men saw me and stepped aside and the old men rose to their feet. . . . Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me” (vv. 7, 8, 11).
He reminisced about his past service to others. “I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them. The one who was dying blessed me; I made the widow’s
heart sing. . . . I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger” (vv. 12-16).
He recalled his seemingly unrealized dreams of a happy old age. “I thought, ‘I will die in my own house, my days as numerous as the grains of sand’” (v. 18).
He remembered how others had sought his advice. ”People listened to me expectantly, waiting in silence for my counsel. After I had spoken, they spoke no more; my words fell gently on their ears. They . . . drank in my words as the spring rain”
He missed the positions of responsibility he used to hold. “I chose the way for them and sat as their chief; I dwelt as a king among his troops” (v. 25a).
Reminders for Us
This chapter of God’s Word serves as a reminder for the young to honor the achievements of the older generation. Everyone needs to feel significant and appreciated. We should respect older believers. Seek their wisdom. Listen to their stories. Recognize their accomplishments.
Job 29 also serves as a reminder for the aging: You can’t live in the past. It’s fine to relish past victories, but not at the expense of serving God in the present and pressing on toward the future. Ecclesiastes 7:10 urges, “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.”
Finally, Job 29 reminds all of us: What we achieve doesn’t measure our worth. Our value isn’t determined by a list of personal accomplishments. Ultimately we find our significance in knowing the eternal God, who is always in his prime.
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.
The Lookout.’s Bible Reading Plan for December 2, 2012
Job 25, 26
Hosea 7, 8
Hosea 13, 14
Joel 2, 3
Amos 1, 2