Friday, April 3, 2020

Golden Years

Whoever came up with this metaphor for the wonderful years that follow retirement and old age as the Golden Years? I spend most of my day visiting aging and ill people in hospitals. They are a source of wisdom for me as we share insights on life. One thing is clear, that God is good and life is hard and keeps getting more difficult with age. This is not a negative view of life; it just is what it is. So what does God have to say about it?

“Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life” (Proverbs 16:30). Most of Proverbs guides readers to seek wisdom and discipline from the Lord and His word. “Listen my son to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching” (Proverbs 1:7).  Throughout the writer says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  He is also saying that all else is folly. So get your aging guidance from the Bible.

I have had the privilege of presiding over some 200 funerals or memorial services. These times offer wonderful opportunity to preach the gospel. One of the more interesting ones that I did not preach but attended looked at a woman’s long, long life from the perspective of Psalm 90. “All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. The length of our days is seventy years- or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:9-10). Wow, now those are encouraging words. But verse 12 goes on to say, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). This tells us to make the most of our years. We are not to dread our aging but to have victory over it through faith in Jesus Christ. Keep on, keeping on.

Have you been to coffee with the “Ain’t it Awful Club?”  I suspect you have often been with aging friends as you have discussed all of your aches and pains and surgeries. Was it uplifting to compare scars, grumble and complain? Maybe for a couple of minutes, but soon this kind of discussion is depressing. Time for another proverb, we were never promised a rose garden.  In fact Jesus told the disciples and us today, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”’  (John 16:33).  In Christ’s victory over death on the cross, we who believe have gained a new overcoming life.

I am saddened when I see the “Golden Years Nursing Home.” The place smells like urine, old skin and furniture. The softened food all looks the same. Now I am not attacking the nursing home industry- We need it. But how about the Eden Alternative®, an inspired and uplifting green concept of caregiving?  Their logo says, “An Elder is someone who, by virtue of life experience, is here to teach us how to live.”  That is a good view of an Elder. That is the view of Japanese culture and not ours.  We seem to throw away elders, as they are work and a frustration not a source of wisdom.
I endured well, most of the time, working for eight years in an elder care community. I learned about patience and long-suffering there amongst complaints. Don’t be a grouchy old person. I received some encouragement in my ministry that is far more frequent today in my hospital ministry. My role today is as an Encourager for patients and staff. I do find that the more content the staff member, the more apt they are to be encouragers themselves. Our hospital is rated in the top few in the nation for quality of care. I find it even more so because many of the staff are friendly and cheerful. “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart and good news bring health to the bones” (Proverbs 15:30).  There it is, the promise for a positive view of life. We have an original Disney celluloid of “Grumpy” the dwarf hanging in our guest bathroom on purpose. Go out and cheer someone, now!  Don’t be a grumpy old person.Grumpy Dwarf Pictures, Images & Photos | Photobucket

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