When My Strength Is Spent
When My Strength Is Spent
Among us today, and a large demographic of many congregations, are those of the “older” generation. I’ll admit that I’m a coward and not brave enough to put a number on that term, so I’ll allow you to define that however you see fit. With that said there is always the “older” generation among us to which we find so much wisdom and encouragement. It amazes me constantly at how many of our elderly struggle with different aliments and challenges and yet still seem to accomplish just as much, if not more, than the younger.
There always seems to be a fine line between the elderly still trying to be fully independent and the younger trying to convince them to do less and accept help. Ecclesiastes 12 points out that all of us will come to a point when our bodies will not work as they once did and we won’t be able to do what we once did. All of us will at some point have to allow others to help us do what we once could do on our own. Each family goes through this process more than once with family members whose health is riddled with challenges.
Psalm 71 I think sheds light on a fear that we would all probably all admit to having but especially one that maybe those who are older think about more. Psalm 71:9 says “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.” In the context there seems to the pressures of enemies and those who sought to do him harm but I think that verse still rings true with many. We all desire to be needed and we seek to prove our worth within our families and our congregations. Someone once said “It is sad to be forgotten, but more so before you’re dead.” We all need purpose in life and I think many hold onto that independence as long as they can because they don’t want to be cast off or forgotten
Herein lies the struggle between generations. The older generation wants to maintain that independence and the younger insists that they do less if anything at all. I think it’s important to understand the simple truth that there is a difference between doing nothing and needing help. I think of Moses in his 80s needing help holding his hands up as they fought against Amalek in Exodus 17. Or Moses in Exodus 18 when his father told him to appoint judges to assist him. Sometimes if we’re not careful we send mixed messages because while we laud and praise the “older” for their resilience and determination we turn around and rebuke them for doing something without asking for assistance.
There’s no doubt that many times families are faced with the difficulty of holding the family meeting because independence and safety have to be balanced and decisions must be made. But to those who are older we thank you for everything you do for your families and our Lord’s kingdom. In Psalm 71 he’d go on to say “O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.” That’s him saying I still have some things I can do. I think we could use that passage as a platform for Titus 2 and the instructions Paul gives there.
While I’m not of that “older” generation yet and realize I am limited in my perspective and wisdom regarding these things I can encourage those who are younger to consider a perspective. Humility is easier when respect is shown. I don’t know about you but I still have a hard time swallowing that I’m no longer in the “young people” group in our congregation. I think I’d struggle with one of our youth telling me I can’t do something any longer or shouldn’t. I think about Leviticus 19:32 where in the law it said “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.” I think about how Elihu held his counsel in Job 32:6-7 simply because it was respectful and fitting to allow the older and wiser speak first and longer. I think about 1 Peter 5:5 where we’re all told to clothe ourselves with humility. Let’s continue to be mindful of how we address those who are older when we know that they need help. Let’s go seek to help them in a way that still upholds and projects their dignity and the respect they deserve.