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“Our Companions In Old Age”

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SIH STSTA ICON(The Lord’s Grace To Meet Our Physical Weaknesses As We Age)

 

 

 

THE SCRIPTURE:

Ecc 12:1-8 (KJV)

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;  While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:  In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened,  And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low;  Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:  Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.  Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.  Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.

 

Isa 46:4 (KJV)

And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.

 

 

THE STUDY:

Folks, as we grow older we find ourselves changing and, in most cases, the change is not for the better. These changes take place due to mankind’s fallen condition and the effects of sin that touch each of our lives.

 

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say,

In Eccl 12:1-8, King Solomon reminds us of the need to always keep our Creator, and His desires for us, in the forefront of our minds, especially during our days of youth.

 

Solomon backs up his statement by explaining that as we progress in life it gradually becomes more difficult to serve the Lord. He gives this advancing time of life the description of “the evil days” (ie the days of adversity and distress).   He calls them evil days in the context of aging’s devastating effects on both our physical and mental health.

He goes further and explains the effects that aging brings upon us, He does this by using the symbolism of a vibrant city, and its individual citizens, that slowly become inactive and finally deserted…

I have no pleasure in them;

Physical aches and pains take the pleasure out of many of the activities that we used to find enjoyable.  As the aging process continues, for many of us, pleasurable days seem to become scarcer with each passing day.

 While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened,

As we age, our eyesight grows dim, causing many sources of light to become darkened as we find it much harder to see.

nor the clouds return after the rain: 

Old age has a tendency to bring with it a series of health problems that return on a consistent basis.  Instead of having physical issues “every now and then”, they begin to appear more frequently, and in many cases become chronic.

In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble,

Our immune system begins to struggle and we find ourselves becoming ill more frequently, and acquiring illnesses that we had previously resisted.

and the strong men shall bow themselves,

Our physical strength begins to wane, as we can no longer do the heavy manual labor that we were used to doing.  Our weakness progresses until we cannot hold ourselves erect and we begin to stoop.

and the grinders cease because they are few,

Our teeth decay and we lose them until only a few remain.

and those that look out of the windows be darkened,

We can no longer see clearly with our eyes.  Not only do we need more light to see (vs 2), but also our eyes become cloudy with cataracts and other eye ailments.

And the doors shall be shut in the streets,

The doors of our mouths and lips are closed (Psa 141:3, Micah 7:5), no longer able to receive or digest the nutrients we need to survive.  We are no longer able to eat the foods we enjoy due to digestive distresses and, eventually, we struggle to eat any food at all.

when the sound of the grinding is low,

Aging brings upon us gradual hearing loss (and deafness) that does not allow us to hear ourselves chewing our food.

and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird,

Arising early due to an inability to sleep due to worries and light sleeping that is awakened by any small noise are common as we grow older.

and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; 

Our natural talents and abilities are gradually lost.  Those who could sing joyous songs can no longer praise their Lord and bring joy to the heart of their listeners, as their talent to sing is taken away from them.

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way,

Fear of accidents, falling, etc seem to dominate old age.  In our youth we could climb ladders to high places, now we are afraid of falling off a simple stepstool.  These fears have a tendency to stop us from attempting to perform activities to which we did not give a second thought.

and the almond tree shall flourish,

The almond tree has gray white blossoms.  This speaks of us losing our youthful hair color as gray hair replaces it.

and the grasshopper shall be a burden,

In our youth, we could easily deal with small pests by catching them and/or stepping upon them etc.  Now, as we get older, our reflexes are slowed.  These creatures evade our efforts to catch them and we have difficulty stepping upon them.

and desire shall fail:

As our age advances, we find our desire for activity and service reduced due to the pain and suffering that accompanies them.  Even our very “zest for life” is stolen by the aging process, stealing away our enjoyment of life itself.

 

These effects of aging come to dwell within our bodies like companions who move into our home and begin to reside with us.  With the passage of time, these companions increase in number and length of their stay, until they finally reside with us on a permanent basis.  They leave us only when, through their presence within us, they bring our life to an end…

because man goeth to his long home,

Our physical death

and the mourners go about the streets: 

Our funeral

Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. 

Our death described as:

  1. the silver cord binding our spirit to our body is broken, releasing our spirit to depart.
  2. the golden bowl of our body is broken taking away its usefulness and ability to perform the purposes of its creation, to glorify God in all we do.
  3. the pitcher of our body is no longer able to retain the spirit within it.
  4. the wheel of our body is no longer useful to anyone desiring water from the cistern. Once dead our ability to serve others come to a complete end.

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. 

As aging brings about physical death, the spirit departs from our physical body.  At that point in time, our body returns back to the ground and our spirit enters into the presence of God for its eventual judgment and consignment to its eternal dwelling place.

Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.

The Hebrew word for vanity describes a air bubble in water. A bubble of air in the water that lasts only a short time then hits the top of the water, breaks apart, and totally disappears with no lasting worth.  As Solomon recalled what he had experienced during the aging process, he came to the conclusion that physical life was like this bubble…. LIFE IS SHORT-LIVED WITH NO PERMANENT VALUE.

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

Sounds depressing and hopeless doesn’t it?  Looking at things from a strictly human perspective, all that we have, looking forward, is future suffering and eventual death.  And all of this is endured for no lasting value.

But, as God’s people we know there is more to this story. We have much by which to be encouraged, we are not alone as aging comes upon us.  We are promised another, more intimate, Friend who will be with us through every step of the aging process…

Isa 46:4 (KJV)

And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.

 

Just as the Lord promises physical Israel, that He would be with them and meet their every need as they grew older; so too, as the spiritual nation of Israel we can claim this very same promise.

As we age and our physical life slowly draws to a close we can know, WITH ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY, our Lord will be with us.  He tells us that He will never “leave you nor forsake you.”    It is just as the Lord says, as our physical health fails us, the Lord will meet our needs… everytime.

 

And even to your old age I am he;

Our Lord does not change, the same Lord that has been so faithful to us during our youthful years, he will remain faithful to us as our age progresses…

and even to hoar hairs will I carry you:

When we can no longer walk, He will carry us…

 I have made, and I will bear;

As our Creator, He will be our support and bear our weight as we lean upon Him….

even I will carry, and will deliver you.

He will carry us during our times of physical weaknesses and will, at death, release us to enter eternity with Him.

 

What a wonderful Lord we serve!  What encouraging words for each one of us to take to heart as we struggle with the effects of aging that falls upon us all.

May the Lord allow His Word to comfort His people, taking away all their fears and increasing their faith as they continue to grow older and seek to serve Him throughout their remaining years.

 

_________________________________________________

 

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions?  

Email me at:    rob.barkman@settledinheaven.org

 

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5 Comments

  1. RJ Dawson says:

    Thanks Rob. Praise the Lord Jesus for giving us hope and health and joy.

    It is somewhat true that older people, due to all the reasons you list here, may be more susceptible to loss of hope and joy, and possibly a depressive state of mind. However, the facts are clear that depression is rising in America in general, even affecting young people and young adults. The bottom line is that there will always be something that can bring us down, regardless of age, if we let it. It is certainly true that challenges of a different sort come our way as we get older but there are ways of meeting these challenges just as any other challenges in life.

    I always recall the attitude of Caleb, who along with Joshua were the only two men from the Sinai generation allowed by God to enter the Promised Land:

    “I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the LORD my God fully.

    “So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God fully.’

    “Now behold, the LORD has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today.

    “I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in.” [Joshua 14:7-11]

    Caleb’s attitude toward any challenge was the same as the Lord’s. The difference between Caleb and Joshua, and all the others of their generation, is that they served the Lord fully. That is the secret we have learned. With God, all things are possible. Our joy and hope and health can be full since these arise from a strong and healthy spirit dedicated to the Lord.

    Be blessed my brother. Keep up the great work.

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Although the Lord can and has blessed those of old age with health, there are many faithful servants of the Lord that face physical infirmities throughout their lives. In both cases, the Lord has a purpose behind the health He graciously gives to some and the sicknesses and infirmities He allows on others.

      Job and Paul are good examples of those who are faithful facing many physical infirmities.. it is very easy to think that all sickness and ills come upon men because of unfaithfulness but the Bible record clearly shows that in many cases that is not the case.

      Solomon was not wrong in what he wrote, in most cases, old age brings upon us (including the faithful of God) physical illnesses, weaknesses and infirmities. It is all a part of sin’s affects on our bodies and the ageing process that, eventually, will lead to our physical death.

      Lord bless you thanks for the comments.

  2. RJ Dawson says:

    Thanks Rob. I fully understand both sides of this issue and also have to deal with certain realities in my own life. But there is a theme in the Torah that suggests good health, provision, and blessings for those who follow and obey the Lord, even though such is relative. It is certainly obvious that our physical bodies are temporary and will wear out eventually. Paul was an incredible man in that so much less of what happened to him would probably have destroyed many others. He just kept going and going regardless of his many challenges and I think that may be key. He had a job to do, a mission to accomplish, and he would do it and would not be stopped until the Lord said it was complete.

    Our victory is a triumph of the spirit regardless of the condition of our bodies. I watched a little of the Iron Man Triathlon yesterday. It is a grueling test of one’s will and reminded me of our journey in life and our walk with God. There was the champion who finished first and the great athletes who finished soon after. But many others were competing to simply complete it. There were non-athletes. There was a blind man. There was a man with a life-threatening disease. There were people in wheel chairs. There were older people. These all completed the course! One older man gave it everything he had but did not complete the course, the distances of which are purely arbitrary. But it was victory for him nonetheless because he gave it his all.

    Several years ago I saw a short film that touched me deeply. It perfectly illustrates the victory of spirit over any challenge but also the desire to help those who could never otherwise be champions be victorious as well. It is the Dick and Rick Hoyt Story. You can view it here:

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