“I don't know… I just do not feel like I am a part of the congregation
anymore.” This statement, or something very similar to it, has been made
to me on more than one occasion in different churches by different brethren
whom I love and respect very much. In each case, it surprised me because
each had done so much to advance the cause of Christ in times past. None of
them were perfect, but they each had done what they could.
So, why had this feeling developed? Well, they all had one thing in common
that had led them to this conclusion. They were advanced in years. Frailties
and responsibilities were weighing heavily upon them, and they were not as
directly active in the efforts of the local churches where they were members
as they had once been.
First, this is not a feeling exclusively found in the realm of the local
church and participation in the efforts there. Even non religious older
folks many times feel the same way concerning whatever realms they may have
once been more active in.
But life brings changes. God knew it would be this way, and He has something
to say about it. We cannot do better than to see what the Lord has to say.
Not All of Us Are Like
“Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his
eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated." (Deuteronomy 34:7). Moses was an
exception to the rule, and that is why this Biblical statement was
noteworthy. We'd all like to be physically healthy as Moses was in our
But typically, we more often fit the description of the writer of
Ecclesiastes. After, in a rather mournful poetic way he described failing
eyesight and losing ones teeth, he urges us to remember always the Lord;
“Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is
crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern
is crushed; then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit
will return to God who gave it.” (Eccl 12:6-7; see vss 1-7).
An Aged Psalmist
Though we may not have Moses' vigor, we can still have his faith. There is
an interesting Psalm written by an elderly man of faith. It shows us several
things about a man of strong faith as he deals with life's issues and
struggles in his advanced age. Without repeating the whole Psalm here, note
a few lines from it.
First, what this gentleman does have is God as his refuge and fortress.
Every man and woman of faith at whatever age always has this! “In You, O
LORD, I have taken refuge; Let me never be ashamed. In Your righteousness
deliver me and rescue me; Incline Your ear to me and save me. Be to me a
rock of habitation to which I may continually come; You have given
commandment to save me, For You are my rock and my fortress." (Psalm
But this wonderful assurance does not mean that there are no ordeals to
overcome. Some are related to age, some are not. For example, then as now,
there are people who would trick and con the elderly. The Psalmist writes,
“Rescue me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, Out of the grasp of
the wrongdoer and ruthless man,” (Psalm 71:4).
Others watch and were amazed at how this grey-headed (later in the Psalm we
learn of his hair color) man of faith deals with life's issues with a
strength and grace that are his because of his faith in God. He will not
stop declaring his confidence, peace and joy. “I have become a marvel to
many, For You are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with Your praise And
with Your glory all day long.” (Psalm 71:7-8).
After speaking of how God had been with him from birth, the Psalmist speaks
of his continued need for God in the evening of life. He pleads for God's
continued presence, “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not
forsake me when my strength fails.” (Psalm 71:9).
The Psalmist sees his advancement in age as continued opportunity to show
others God's strength, though perhaps in different circumstances than he did
when he was a young man “O God, You have taught me from my youth, And I
still declare Your wondrous deeds. And even when I am old and gray, O God,
do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your
power to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71:17-18).
And finally, the Palmist sees ultimate revival and victory in spite of the
problems he faces in his final time on the earth. “You who have shown me
many troubles and distresses. Will revive me again, And will bring me up
again from the depths of the earth. May You increase my greatness And turn
to comfort me.” (Psalm 71:20-21).
Some Things the Lord
The Lord urges respect for the elderly. This needs to include self respect
for those who are advanced in years. Concerning the righteous elderly, the
Lord speaks of their usefulness in His service, “They will still yield
fruit in old age… to declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and
there is no unrighteousness in Him.” (See Psalm 92:12-15). For those who
have lived their lives in righteous service of the Lord, the Bible says,
“A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness.”
Services to be
So, what can one do? The first thing to remember is that in the local church
there are many different things to do by different people with different
abilities and opportunities. Not everyone is young or old (hopefully) but
there are things for everyone to do as they are able. No one ought to feel
that they are any less a part of the body due to the inability to do
everything they would like to be able to do (1 Corinthians 12:13-27). So,
what can an elderly disciple do who is now infirmed or otherwise
incapacitated due to the restraints of age?
Be good examples. When outward strength fades, show inner, spiritual
strength and let it increase. “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though
our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.“
(2 Corinthians 4:16). Be the cause of others “marveling” because
of your grace and inner strength and confidence. When Paul was aged, he did
this from a prison (Philemon 9)!
Give counsel with Scriptures and proven experience. As you are able, speak
of the blessings and victories that God has given you (Titus 2:2-4).
Pray. Anna was 84 and prayed “night and day” (Luke 2:37). Age does
not diminish the effectiveness of the prayers of righteous men and women
(James 5:16b). Pray for the church, the elders, the teachers, the preacher,
the sick, the lost, the young, the old.
Do not let anyone diminish the importance of these three areas of service.
And these are not exhaustive, you can perhaps think of many more. The church
needs all these services, and those who involve themselves in these things
are rendering wonderful service to God and His church and a blessing to
their fellow members in the body.
From The Bradley Banner 7/19/2005
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway
Bradley, IL 60915