Recently, I celebrated the 99th birthday of a precious saint of God. I had met Mildred while leading a weekly Bible study at an assisted living facility in my hometown. Mildred was quite delightful, and her mind was as sharp as if she were in her twenties.
Every time I visited the facility, Mildred had an encouraging word for me. She would thank me for coming and sharing God’s Word with her and the other residents. But not long after her birthday, Mildred went on to her heavenly home. I miss her greatly.
The first day I visited the assisted living facility, I thought how these senior adults must often feel like prisoners. Their declining health prevents them from getting around, and they’ve had to leave their homes and reside with strangers. As a result, many feel isolated from the world. Busy families don’t visit, and it can seem they don’t care anymore.
When I visit them, I remind these elderly children of God that their heavenly Father loves them deeply; He hasn’t forgotten them. They might feel alone, but in Isaiah 49:15, God declares, “Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? Even if that were possible, I would not forget you!”
We talk a lot during our visits about the importance of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. For most of them, their age means they are close to facing eternity. Those who know Him are eagerly waiting for the day they will meet their Savior face to face. In the meantime, they live each day to the fullest, knowing their time is precious.
I am overwhelmed with love for these men and women. I learn from their wisdom and experience, but I’m also entertained by how funny they are.
Recently, we were discussing 1 Corinthians 13 and how love is not envious of others. Mary shared how she had struggled with jealousy as a young married gal. She told us about the time she and her husband were at a pool party and another woman started making moves on her husband. Mary watched awhile, then marched over and asked the woman if she knew how to swim. The woman replied yes, and Mary asked her if she thought she could still swim with Mary sitting on her, because that was what was going to happen if she didn’t stop hanging on to her husband! We laughed like kids over this story. I told Mary that wasn’t jealousy, that was protecting her husband from a predator.
I hear funny stories like this all the time, as well as stories that move my heart. These folks have lived through so many changes and challenges. I am reminded of this quote by George Washington Carver: “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant with the weak and strong—because someday in your life, you will have been all of these.”
We must be compassionate with the aged. So many times, our culture ignores the elderly folks. This world is filled with many distractions, but the sad reality is that the younger generations find little value in older people. They consider them bothersome, old fashioned, and uninformed. But older people have wisdom that only experience can provide. If younger folks would take the time to honor the aged and listen to them, their lives would be enriched in many ways.
Regardless of our age, the Lord is counting on us to be compassionate with the elderly. It helps to remember Carver’s wisdom—one day, we will be the elderly. Don’t wait to honor them. Begin today by thanking them for the sacrifices they made to make your life better. Pray for them and include them in your life. You will be blessed in the process. †