THE BEAUTY OF OLD MEN
by David Sisler
I have some good news for you. And some bad news. And some great news.
First, the good news. We are living longer and growing older. In 1900 only 41 out of 100 people lived to age 65. Today 79 out of 100 live that long. In 50 years one-third of the population will be senior citizens.
Now for the bad news. As the sheer number of elderly citizens increase, so will health care problems and health care costs. We are living longer, but medical science has yet to combat successfully many of the disabling conditions of old age. Arthritis, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and other ailments continue to make it difficult to enjoy the so-called golden years. More and more older people require assistance with such basic life functions as dressing, eating, bathing, and going to the bathroom.
As bad as all of that is, and it is bad, wait until you hear the great news!
Babylon was about to be invaded by Cyrus and the Assyrian army. The idols of Babylon, unable to defend their city, were loaded onto animals and carried away for their own safety. With the nation who conquered Israel about to be conquered themselves, the prospects for God's people were not good. But with all of the tenderness of a mother for her new born child, God took care of His people.
Four hundred years had passed since Saul was anointed king and the Israelite monarchy had been established. Eight centuries had passed since the nation of Egypt groaned with the birth pains of Israel's deliverance. With a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire, God led His people. With manna and quail, He fed them. With water from a smitten rock, He quenched their thirst. By His battle plans and strategies, He defeated their enemies. By His own hand He brought judgment upon them for their disobedience.
As the idols of their captors were loaded onto beasts of burden, God reminded them of His loving care. The dignity of false gods became an object of scorn as they were hurried off for their own protection. They were unable to even get themselves out of danger.
As Israel watched that scene, God promised, "Listen to me...you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you" (Isaiah 46:3-4). That is great news!
Seven hundred years before Jesus was born, God reminded His people that He never changes. Israel had gone through many changes, even being divided into two kingdoms, both of whom were invaded and conquered. When His people, as a nation, were as infants, God cared for them. Most natural parents precede their children to the grave; few parents see their children grow to old age. God said with His changeless being and His changeless love, He would continue to guard and guide His people. Age did not make them any less dependent. Experience only taught them the need to continue to trust in His sustaining grace.
God was speaking directly to Israel, but the Christians, those who are God's adopted children, enjoy His continual care and constant mercy, no less than did that nation so long ago.
The principle applies to those who are literally aged. Advancing years may have stooped your shoulders and slowed your steps, time may have whitened your hair and wrinkled your skin, but God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He has never changed.
The same words which brought hope in Babylon can bring hope to you: "Even when your hair has turned gray, I will take care of you. I made you and will take care of you. I will carry you, and I will save you." You can trust a God like that--with your golden years and then when you walk the streets of gold.
Published in the Augusta Chronicle 2/26/94
Copyright 1994 by David Sisler
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