Over the last few months, we have talked about what it is like to grow old and how it is even better to age gracefully. Not only do we want to experience this blessing ourselves, but we also want to transfer it to the people who are part of our aging process.
It is wonderful when we can gratefully and happily walk the last stages of our life’s journey. In doing so, we hope that silent observers will be inspired to also strive to age gracefully.
We have considered what we want our aging to be like and also heard advice from other people about the way in which they would like to grow old. Sometimes growing old can be scary, especially when we think of all the things we should keep in mind and not forget. The important thing is to know that we are not alone. God is always with us, no matter where we are or what is happening.
An old, yellowed devotional page from 1981 was given to me. In it I read about a young man named Heinrich Giesen, who was to conduct a church service and was nervous and anxious. “I waited with a heavy heart for the service to begin. As I did so, I must have sighed heavily, as a preacher often does before a service. Then Brother Schmitt approached and placed his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘Heinrich, HE is here!’ That was all he said, but with that he had said everything. I understood. Everything was all right.”
HE is here.
“Heinrich, He is here!” – To make it a little more personal, just put your name here and read it to yourself for encouragement: “_________, He is here!” – God is with us. Whatever we face and whatever challenges may come our way, God’s Word reminds us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). God is always there! Whether we are sitting in a waiting room or alone in our own homes, God is there. Whether we understand our children or our children understand us or not, God is there! Even when our lives turn out differently than expected, God is still there! There is no moment nor situation where God is not with us.
In the song, “There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus, no, not one! No, not one!” we sing in the third verse: “There’s not an hour that He is not near us, no, not one! No, not one! No night so dark, but His love can cheer us, no, not one! No, not one!”
There are hours when we may not immediately feel God’s presence, in the sense of the song, “E’en when I am not feeling Thy love or might,” but still He is there! We can end the song with confidence, “Still Thou art safely leading, though dark the night.” God is there! Even when we walk through “dark valleys,” we are not alone. David puts it this way in the 23rd Psalm, verse 4: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Even then the words “HE is there!” apply.
HE helps us.
The Bible emphasizes again and again that God helps us. This is His promise: to stand by us during our journey through life. On our way, we encounter problems and obstacles that often accumulate with age. Even when we ask for changes and for the removal of difficulties, this does not always happen as we imagine. Nevertheless, God assures us, “I will help you!” HE is there!
The apostle Paul found himself in a very difficult situation. He spoke of a “thorn in the flesh” that he wanted to be rid of and asked God to remove it, several times. However, God could not remove this thorn because it was necessary for Paul. God knows the reason why certain things happen, and He does not make mistakes. Paul himself writes about this (2 Corinthians 12:9): “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’” In other words: God will help! HE is there! Paul finally understood his situation and accepted it. He writes on in verse 10: “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” No matter what happens, as long as God helps us, everything will turn out well.
HE is here, and HE helps us. These are two important thoughts that we should remember. In the Old Testament, there is a verse in the book of Isaiah (41:10) where HE, God Himself, speaks: “Fear not, for I am with you [HE is there]; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you [HE helps us], I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” If we read this verse again, we will realize that there is no reason to fear because God takes care of us.
We want to contribute, as much as we can, to the process of aging gracefully in a blessed way. With God’s help, we want to radiate joy and confidence. On the other hand, we also know that HE is here, and HE helps us. This is a great gift!