In my church family (as I’m sure is true in other church families), there are a number of members (and kinfolk of members) who are getting…well…let’s just say: “advanced in years.” As a pastor, I often get the privilege of being with these friends as they confront the challenges that sometimes come with age, and I am frequently inspired and humbled by faith and endurance that they demonstrate. In some instances, however, the pains with which they struggle become so incessant and the setbacks come so frequently that even these seasoned believers are tempted to feel abandoned.
I think of all this because one of the readings from today’s Daily Office is Psalm 71, which – among other things – says this:
“Do not cast me away when I am old;
do not forsake me when my strength is gone…
Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come…
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
You will increase my honor
and comfort me once more.” (Psalm 71: 9, 17-18, 20-21)
So why do I focus on all of this today? Perhaps to give myself and others these three reminders:
- Let’s be sure to pray for the “senior saints” among us. Some of them are dealing with significant burdens that the rest of us can perceive only dimly (if at all), and they need to upheld by the love of their brothers and sisters in faith so that they can experience renewed strength and hope.
- As we have opportunity, let’s take practical steps to bless and encourage these friends. Now in my experience, pride sometimes prevents them from allowing others to clean their house or mow their lawn. But a card, or a phone call – or better yet, a visit – can go along way toward demonstrating that we haven’t forsaken them. And when we as the Body of Christ haven’t forsaken them, that offers a reminder that the Lord hasn’t forsaken them, either. (If you read this and would like to write a note – but don’t know who to send it to – contact me. I’ve got a list.)
- Let’s cultivate today the kind of bond with Christ that will sustain us when our times of challenge come (which they almost certainly will). As they psalmist reminds us, all of us have both the opportunity and the responsibility to “declare God’s power to the next generation, His mighty acts to all who are to come.” May we prove to be as faithful as so many who’ve gone before us have been.