Though Outwardly Wasting Away

By Pastor Teck Uy

One of the most neglected or marginalized groups of people around are the seniors. There is this ageism – bias, and discrimination – that they have to contend with. They are negatively being portrayed as if they have now become a burden to society. But while they are no longer as productive as when they were younger, they certainly do not deserve to go through ageism. Just as these seniors were excited to welcome new babies in their younger days, those same babies should now be excited to send these seniors off. Those who practice ageism must understand this: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Gal. 6:7). No one is exempt from aging and we should sow the good seed now so that when we get to become seniors ourselves, we too shall not be subjected to ageism.

While our seniors go through all kinds of sufferings, they are nevertheless encouraged by the apostle Paul when he said, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:16-18). For as long they still have their breath, seniors are not to lose hope regardless of what people say and how they are treated. They have God with them to sustain them day by day. The Lord himself said, “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” (Isa. 46:4). But how can we make the life of our seniors light and enjoyable?

Love and respect them dearly. What our seniors need as they advance in age is the continuing love and respect of their children. This love is not something that is shown tokenly. Rather, it is what the apostle called true love. He said, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Rom 12:9). Respecting the seniors are equally important. The Lord had commanded: “Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:32). Rising in the presence of the elderly is not merely standing up to acknowledge their presence but to acknowledge their wisdom and their counsel. We need to defer to their wisdom and experience.

Inspire then to seek the Lord. Many of the issues that the seniors have are burdensome. These are too much for them to bear considering their age. In their younger years, these would have been peanuts to them but not so anymore. For this reason, it will go well if we can lead them to the one who can carry the burdens for them, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30) Certainly, the Lord will renew them day by day when they seek him earnestly.

Give them the care they need. Physically, they are no longer as agile. They do things slowly now and needs help, especially from their own children, to attend to their basic needs. This is now the time for their children to pay them back for the care they received when they were young. The apostle Paul said, “But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God” (1 Tim 5:4). This is the right thing for their family to do.

Hear them out. One of the biggest problems of seniors is that no one listens to them anymore. Their words are ignored, and so are their ideas and counsel. But we must remember these words from Job: “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” (Job 12:12) Indeed, we should not discount the counsel of the aged. They certainly have the wisdom, knowledge and experience gained over the years. King Solomon said, “Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old” (Prov. 23:22).

Treat them gently. Knowing that their physical bodies have wasted away, they need gentle care. This gentle care comes with gentle words. The apostle Paul said to Timothy, “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father” (1 Tim 5:1). Even when the seniors tend to be irritable and said words that can be hurtful, the right response is gentleness. King Solomon said, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). Physically and emotionally, they are now fragile that need special and gentle care. Amen.