A few days ago, I was at the airport waiting to pick up a Brother. While waiting, I looked up and noticed an elderly lady cautiously approaching an escalator. She focused on the step she would have to take to get onto the moving stairs. To one side of the escalator, there was a space that opened down to the waiting room below, and she stood as far away from this opening as possible, on the opposite side of the escalator. Finally, she grasped the moving railing and risked the step forward. During the ride downwards, she did not look around, as some other passengers did, to perhaps locate family members or her luggage. This ride down was too stressful for her to attempt that. I noticed that some time before she arrived at the bottom, she already held one foot raised to step off. The awaited moment arrived, and she was finally able to dismount safely.
I stood there and thought about the uncertainty in life as one ages. The other passengers using the escalator appeared unconcerned. They talked, laughed, looked around, or looked in their backpacks and, without any further thought, walked off the escalator. Not so for this older lady. She had given her carry-on luggage to a helpful fellow passenger to make things easier. It was clear that she had become uncertain in this situation.
This is how many older people feel. Things that were routine a number of years ago are now the cause of stress and fear. We hear: “I am unable to do that.” “I dare not drive into the city center anymore.” “How will I cross the street?” “Will I have enough money to survive?” “To which doctor should I go?” and many, many more such questions. We become uncertain, and doubts frequently arise.
In addition, many changes arise in our times. Often, as we get older, we cannot understand these changes and they may therefore cause stress. Why can things not stay as they always were? Why do all facets of human existence undergo such massive changes that the only thing for certain is more change? Values, uses, traditions, and even spiritual standards are often tossed aside and ignored, or are changed by younger generations. Someone commented recently: “I just don’t fit into this world anymore!” Maybe you are experiencing similar feelings!
Then the uncertainty arises: “Were our grandparents and we, in our generation, wrong? Is everything we believed in and stood for incorrect? Is what we believed and how we did things not important?” The questions become acute, especially in spiritual situations. In this, the enemy of the soul attempts to make older children of God doubtful of their faith. “Are you truly a child of God? Is what you believe true? Why do you not feel God’s nearness more clearly? Why do you have such negative thoughts?” and probably “God is no longer with you!” Satan uses many doubts and reproaches to make children of God uncertain. In our older years, it may be more difficult to withstand Satan’s attacks.
How can we avoid all this? We need prayer and God’s Word as well as the whole armor of a child of God as Paul describes it in Ephesians 6. Read about this in verses 10-18. Have you considered that we are never too old to use these weapons masterfully? In contrast to a physical war, for which mostly young people are chosen, the spiritual weapons of older, experienced fighters of God become stronger! Just like Caleb, you can become a mightier fighter in your old age!
Then, look for your security in the character and promises of God. God is trustworthy. He loves all His children unconditionally, both young and old. He loves them all, including you! He is the victor, and He fights for you and is at your side. This God has promised to be at your side until the end of time. He has also promised to carry you into your old age. He has promised to be your helper, your rock, your hope, your Lord, your Redeemer, and your Savior, and He will be your reward. Paul could say: “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). We are surely able to depend on this, because God is truth and His word is true! If we trust in Him, He will guide us through all the uncertainties that old age brings.
Will we be abandoned in the difficulties of our later years? We find the answer in a well-known verse written by Fanny Crosby:
Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe from corroding care,
Safe from the world’s temptations, sin cannot harm me there.
Free from the blight of sorrow, free from my doubts and fears;
Only a few more trials, only a few more tears!
Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe on His gentle breast,
There by His love o’ershaded, sweetly my soul shall rest.