Growing Older Gracefully

Growing old is a fact of life. It is inevitable. However, how we age is in our hands. We have a tremendous impact on the last years of our lives. In collaboration with other brothers and sisters, I have compiled some thoughts to help us in this process. 

As followers of Jesus Christ, it is a given that we keep our eyes on the Lord. Our priority is to follow Jesus. Nothing should be more important to us than being faithful to Him. 

Today, we are closer to the goal than ever before. Let’s look at what really matters now. As an airplane approaches its destination airport after a long flight, you will hear the announcement via the public address (PA) system to prepare for arrival. Everyone knows what that means: we’ve almost reached our destination. 

What really matters, you ask? Here are some points to consider.


That’s important for all ages, you say. And you’re right. But for older people, it seems to me, prayer plays an especially significant role. In addition, we have more time for it now than we used to. You often hear, “I’m bored.” Why not use this time for prayer? It helps us to cope more easily with all the changes we are experiencing. The body is slowly declining, and mobility is less than desirable. On top of that, we usually struggle a bit with forgetfulness…. We don’t wish to add to the list of things we can no longer do, lest it becomes too depressing. God’s Word invites us to talk to the Lord about it. We can bring every complaint to Him. You can pour out your heart to Him. The Lord understands us and is able to help. Make it a habit, and let it be your first reaction before you express your need to people. Talk to your heavenly Father about it first. In Philippians 4:6, Paul writes, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”  

“Are your sorrows hard to bear? Do you worry? Is peace rare? Jesus understands and cares; turn your sorrows into prayers” (Dora Rappard). 

This way of praying, this intimacy with the heavenly Father, must be learned. Start early and turn every obstacle (situation) into a prayer. Build this foundation of trust early in life. Those who learn to pray will continue this habit as they age and will not become a burden to themselves or others. 

The Word of God 

When tempted by the devil to turn stones into bread, Jesus replied, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). The application is not difficult to understand. Bread has its place and is part of nourishment, and yet there is more to life than food. The inner man, however, is sustained by the Word of God. The prophet Jeremiah also spoke in this sense: “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts” (15:16).

How wonderful it is to find an open Bible when visiting older brothers and sisters. Sometimes there is a magnifying glass on it; as we age, reading can often become challenging. We want to be “refueled” with the Word of God. If our eyesight is failing, we can still remember God’s Word. Also, the Holy Spirit can remind us of Jesus’ words. How wonderful it is to hear conversations in which someone recites Bible verses (memorized long ago), and these delight the soul. During my Bible school days, Sister W. Sonnenberg used to exhort us, “Children, memorize Bible verses.” This practice is part of the preparation for growing old.  

The Church Services 

As long as you are able, attend the services. Be present where God’s people gather and sing together, study God’s Word, and pray together. Regular attendance at worship is part of the life of a child of God. Hebrews 10:25 urges us regarding meetings: “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves.” This attitude, this faithfulness and joy in attending meetings must be developed at a younger age. It should be a given to be present where brothers and sisters gather. 

In old age, unexpected circumstances can tempt us to just stay home. One is no longer as mobile, and everything takes longer. Perhaps one depends on a walker or cane, and some adversity sets in. And yet, attending meetings is very important for us, for we are blessed by the singing together, the preaching, and the fellowship. By our presence, we can also be a blessing to others. The pastor and the congregation are encouraged when they see our contentment and gratitude, our Bible in our hands, our smiles, our prayers. Our actions exemplify that it is worthwhile to serve the Lord. As long as it is possible, attend the meetings. Your presence is expected. 

The Ministry of Witnessing

Sharing the Good News is the responsibility of all age groups. We no longer meet classmates or work colleagues every day. That time is history. But even now in retirement, we associate with various people. They may be people we live with, perhaps peers in a nursing home. One brother moved into a nursing home. Prior to eating his meal in the dining room, he bowed his head to give thanks. Then a thought crossed his mind…. The next mealtime, he stood up before the meal and asked his fellow residents if it would be all right with them if he said grace before each meal. The suggestion was gratefully accepted. So he instituted grace and faithfully carried out this privilege until his death. Another brother takes a walk every morning to stay fit. In his case, it could also be called a “mission trip” because he always carries and distributes some New Testaments on his walk. Many a time I observe him pocketing some New Testaments after the service. These are gratefully received from him. At times, he even engages in a spiritual conversation.

You’re surrounded by people, too, aren’t you? It may be your doctor or the technician repairing your hearing aid or perhaps the optometrist who is trying to sell you a new pair of glasses. If you haven’t already done so, put some tracts in your pocket. Yes, even in your old age you can still do missionary work. But start early so it comes naturally to you. This mission changes our perception. It no longer affects you how someone is dressed or how their hair is styled. You see the soul for which the Savior died.   

This article shares advice on aging gracefully. Let’s prepare ourselves and start this long before we actually grow old. It will make our lives much easier and enable us to touch the lives of others as well. Take time to pray about these thoughts and let the Lord guide you in your personal preparation.

Harry Semenjuk

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