GRANDPARENTS AND THE ELDERLY
“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them...” Ecclesiastes 12:1 (KJV)
Solomon thought deeply about life and what it means to us. By 2050 there may be 2 Billion senior citizens in our world. In our world of time we grow old. God has planned it this way. We need to help each other, and we are blessed by doing this. Some would like to get rid of the elderly and disabled. But in time they too will be old and disabled.
The Bible speaks to this in Ecclesiastes. The NLT translates the Hebrew metaphors (guards... strong men... servants... women) and also provides an interpretation of these poetic elements (legs... shoulders... teeth... eyes). The silver cord and the golden bowl, like human life, are very valuable. Our body is like a common earthen jar that is fragile and soon broken.
“Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.”2 Remember him before the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dim to your old eyes, and rain clouds continually darken your sky.3 Remember him before your legs—the guards of your house—start to tremble; and before your shoulders—the strong men—stoop. Remember him before your teeth—your few remaining servants—stop grinding; and before your eyes—the women looking through the windows—see dimly.4 Remember him before the door to life’s opportunities is closed and the sound of work fades. Now you rise at the first chirping of the birds, but then all their sounds will grow faint.5 Remember him before you become fearful of falling and worry about danger in the streets; before your hair turns white like an almond tree in bloom, and you drag along without energy like a dying grasshopper, and the caperberry no longer inspires sexual desire. Remember him before you near the grave, your everlasting home, when the mourners will weep at your funeral.6 Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well.7 For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:1-7 (NLT)
Five biblical passages raise issues of concern to the world’s elderly today. “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails.” Psalms 71:9
The figure of Sara: the alleged uselessness / sterility of the elderly. “Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, "Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?" Gen 17:17
The figures of Naomi and Ruth: the abandonment of a mother-in-law by her daughter-in-law. “And she said, "Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law." Ruth 1:15
The story of Eleazar: the responsibility each elder has towards the younger generation and for the transmission of the faith. “And Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest was to be chief over the leaders of the Levites, with oversight of those who kept charge of the sanctuary.” Num 3:32
The last Scripture passages come from the New Testament: the stories of Zechariah / Elizabeth and Simeon / Anna. Aging together in fulfilment of God’s will, and on the zealous expression of gratitude for a lifetime dedicated to the Lord.
“But they had no child, because
was barren, and
they were both well advanced in years.” Luke
“And behold, there was a man in
whose name was
Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of
Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” Jerusalem
“and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” Luke 2:37
“Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do.10 So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you, is meaningless.” Eccl 11:9-10 (NLT)