by Shawn Brasseaux
About two weeks ago, I went with my parents to see an elderly family member in the nursing home. Jim is in his early seventies and he is my paternal grandfather’s brother (one of the last surviving members of eight original children). It was quite sad because not many people visit him. He once lived in a mobile home, and my dad’s cousin would go every day and care for him there. This past January, my dad’s cousin died of cancer, so Jim was moved to a nursing home a few months back. He has had a couple of strokes in the past, but thankfully, he can still hear and talk, and he has a sound mind. He still remembers us, and He can still make sound decisions.
The nursing home in which he lives is a very lonely place. As we talked to him in a lobby, there were other elderly people watching television. One poor lady must not have been able to speak, because she just sat there tapping her hands and slumped to one side of the chair. A man nearby suffered from tremors, and he sat in a wheelchair at a table with a nurse. Another woman, who probably was senile, was walking and pacing the floors, and then returning to her seat. One of Jim’s friends could not hear us talking, and he was waiting on his niece to bring him some batteries for his hearing aids. As we wheeled Uncle Jim to the cafeteria, we passed by several rooms. I would glance in the doorways, and see a poor old soul lying in bed staring up at the ceiling. These dear souls, outcasts of society, are just wasting away.
In the cafeteria, Jim sat next to a woman—she was 99 years old! We sat with him for a short time while he ate, and then we left. As I walked down the halls back to the parking lot I got the idea that I needed to write an article about the elderly. Those people probably have very little hope there, because they feel unloved and forgotten. No one has time for them because society views them as elderly and therefore useless. Most of them, if not all of them, are lost and have no idea about the salvation in Christ Jesus. What is further sad is that some have lost much of their ability to learn and comprehend, so they have little to no hope of trusting in Christ!
This past summer, we traveled to Texas to see one of my mom’s great uncles. Uncle Joe is a Christian and he is 95 years old, but he looks quite younger than that. The first time we visited him was back in 2001 when his wife of 65 years had just recently gone on to be with the Lord (he claims that his wife was also a believer). When we stopped by his apartment this past July, he was so delighted to see us that he clapped his hands and jumped from his recliner! His daughter lives right next door, but I am sure that he still gets lonely. Despite his age, he has a very sharp memory, and he is still driving. He was sad to see us leave, because we only talked with him for a few hours. Now that his wife is gone, not many people visit him either, and he has very little interaction with others.
While the bodies of these elderly are worn and weakening as the golden years draw to a close, their souls have not aged! The Bible says that the LORD God made humans in His image (Genesis 1:26-28). We have a part of us that is timeless and eternal like God is, and that is our soul. God still loves the elderly, because He also died for their forgiveness! The Bible says that one day we will grow old too, as this is because the curse of sin has brought in physical death.
In the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 34:7, Moses lived to be 120 years old and he still had sharp vision and could walk like a young man! When Moses dies, the Bible says in verses 5-6 that God Himself buried Moses in a secret location. Abraham, the “father” of the nation Israel, was 175 years old when he died (Genesis 25:7). Genesis 5:5 says that Adam was 930 years old when he died, while the oldest known man is Methuselah, who lived 969 years (Genesis 5:27). Noah died at age 950 (Genesis 9:28-29). While we can never expect to live that long here in this world, we as Christians can expect to live forever in glory!
Just the other day, a 95-year-old sister in Christ, whom my parents knew for years, passed away and is now in the presence of the Lord. Another elderly Christian my parents know suffers from Alzheimer’s. She may not be fully aware of where she is or what she needs to do at times, but God has not forgotten her, and neither will He leave her side. If you are a genuine Christian, Jesus Christ has promised to “never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 KJV). Even in your old age, in your weakness, the Lord can still use you to accomplish His will. You may be limited physically, but you can still pray for others to be saved and/or grow spiritually.
To any young people reading this, we should honor and love the elderly. Although the elderly can be good sources of information, pay special attention to the advice of elderly Christians. They have lived their lives according to the Bible, and they have experience from which you can also benefit. I am learning that more and more everyday.