In His great wisdom, God saw it appropriate to allow human beings to go through their allotted years in pre-established stages. After birth we move through the "innocent" childhood years, followed by the "turbulent" teen years, after which we spend many years in the adult and "productive" years, until we finally enter the "sunset" years.
Unless there is an unfortunate early death, all humans go through similar stages and experience the challenges and the growth that results from them.
For many elderly people in the world, the sunset years are a time of stagnation and discouragement. People who were involved in challenging and productive work find themselves unable to use their minds and talents as they once did, thus feeling much less useful and valued. Depression afflicts some elderly people due to losses of family members and friends and the various ailments that afflict some of them.
For converted Christians, old age is not a time of stagnation, nor is it a time of chronic discouragement. The sunset years are for many elderly Christians a time of accelerated spiritual growth and great joy and satisfaction. In fact, in many ways, elderly Christians become especially blessed, when many elderly people in the world feel empty and hopeless.
Having known many older Christians and having discussed their lives with them, I have concluded that there are several areas in which they are very spiritually blessed. Here are some areas:
Wisdom: Wisdom cannot be bought. True wisdom cannot be learned in colleges and universities. Wisdom requires time and experience. It is the accumulation of experimentations, foolish risk-taking, plain innocent mistakes and experiencing the consequences to the above. It is the result of years of being tempered by life and being enlightened by a merciful God. Christians over 60 possess wisdom in very large amounts. They are blessed.
Patience: Older people have seen the result of being impetuous and impulsive. They have paid for jumping hastily into things. They are calm and reflective. They are longsuffering, when younger ones are not. They can wait long and very patiently. While patience is a trait the more impulsive younger Christians long for, for many elderly Christians, patience requires little effort. They are blessed.
Kindness: Some of the kindest, sweetest people on earth are older people. Their ways are gentle and their approach is tender. That is one of the reasons why their grandchildren love them so much. They have seen that harsh ways produce little good. They have seen how much unkind words hurt. They shun aggressiveness and meanness and use a soft touch. They are blessed.
Humility: Most older people are very humble. They have shed the pride of youth and they are framed by a realization that, indeed, as Solomon taught, "all is vanity" (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Most look at their life's accomplishments as having only relative importance. They can now see that what humans value is perishable, and that ultimately only what God values in them has any lasting worth. They are blessed.
No More Illusions: There was a time when older people were young and they, too, chased illusions. They made money—some, lots of it. Some traveled far and wide. Some had power, prestige and respect based on position or wealth. They tasted what drives humanity and now they see that its worth is temporal and fleeting. They are no longer interested in illusions. They are not attracted by power and prestige. Great wealth has no importance to them. They value their family, their friends and, most of all, their Creator. They are blessed.
Time to Socialize: Our senior citizens have the time to do what before they could not do, because of the stress of work and responsibilities. They can visit leisurely with people of like mind, without any hurry. They can visit their families and spend lots of time with their children and especially their grandchildren. They can visit their Father in Heaven without hurrying. They can get to know Him with a depth never before experienced. They are blessed.
Time to Reflect: The time at their disposal gives them the opportunity to do something that is well known to increase spiritual growth exponentially: reflect, assess and repent. While before they mostly learned from prolonged experiences and, at times, repeated painful consequences, during the retirement years they have all the necessary time to dissect their whole life one detail at a time and learn what before haste or pride prevented.
Many insights that God tried to teach them before, and failed to, can now jell easily and thoroughly. The stubborn resistance of the past is no more. The hard stone has turned into soft clay, and more than ever they are responsive to God's corrections. They are blessed.
Giving: Though elderly Christians may be limited by finances and health, they have the power to contribute to the Church in a way that most younger Christians cannot: powerful and effective prayers. Most of us who have been in the Church for some time have come to recognize the wisdom of turning to our senior citizens and asking them for their prayers in times of need.
The Scriptures assure us that "the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16). Most of our elderly brethren are righteous and their prayers are sincere, fervent and effective. Their intercessions before God do avail much, and those who have asked them to partner with them in times of need know the difference that their prayers have made.
God loves the elderly in His Church. Their prayers are like sweet incense rising before His throne. He values their requests and the Church reaps the benefits of their righteousness and intercessions. They are blessed.
A Blessing to the Church
In all of God's congregations there are many wonderful and very special elderly brethren who add so very much to our spiritual family. We love them because we know they love us. We admire them because they, in many ways, are what we wish to be.
We value them because we know they have much value before God. We savor our moments with them, because they have so much tenderness, kindness and gentleness to offer us. We are honored with their presence, because we know that we have among us many future children of God who are not far from receiving their glorious crowns.
We are blessed! UN