List as many of the twelve organ systems of the human body as you can.
The Word Search on the next page contains nineteen words – one of which is repeated – that are increasingly familiar in an ageing population. The repeated word is ‘replacement’ and it is linked to two other words in the puzzle. Solve the puzzle and chat about what one word you would add to characterise old age in your mind.
Although we may feel we have little to offer the Lord because of our changing health, we can share, care, and understand life with much to give in helping others.
The Bible tells us that,
‘Moses was 120 years old when he died,
yet his eyes were not weak nor
his strength gone.’
Deuteronomy 34:7 (NIV)
One translation of that text says ‘his eye was not dim, neither were his teeth moved.’ (Douay-Reims), and another says ‘his vitality had not left him’. However we phrase it, Moses lived to a very vigorous old age! Thanks to better nutrition, healthier lifestyles, the NHS and the grace of God, an increasing number of people in the UK are enjoying a healthy and adventurous old age. Good on them! Blessed are they that go trekking
in the Himalayas in their nineties, take up bodybuilding in their eighties, or just learn to swim in their seventies.
However, for most people our advancing years bring physical limitations and sometimes failing health and diminished bodily strength. As one retired officer put it to me ‘I have recently come to the conclusion that at
the age of seventy-eight there are some things I can no longer do that I used to do when I was fifty-eight!’ This realisation had evidently come as a surprise to her.
To some extent I can identify with those who are facing declining health.
I have lived with a chronic illness for 10 years. For much of the time I do not need to think about it, but I am aware of the limits it sets on my strength, and sometimes on my patience. It is always in the background. Apart from some long breaks for treatment, or frequent spells when I have had an infection or been in hospital, I have been able get on with life; travelling and working on the assumption that it is better to plan ahead than wait to see how I feel.
For many people the physical effects of declining health are less distressing than the isolation and loneliness that illness can bring. Those who are confined to their home or to a care home might well feel isolated, and even forgotten. Loneliness is possibly the worst of all the epidemics that older people are likely to encounter.
The advancing years do not just bring wisdom; I have seen many people come to a new spiritual maturity, with more time for God, prayer and study of the Bible. And more time to encourage others in their faith.
I have discovered six simple rules that help to offset the disadvantages of living with declining health:
With grateful thanks to Lt. Col. Ian Barr
Read Psalm 103:1-4
Discuss things to be thankful for:
These verses help us to come near to the Lord who understands how we feel. The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting (Age to Age) to those that fear him.
There was a Colonel on Head Quarters whose wife was at home, confined to bed. What could she do while her husband was at work? She started a Bible class in her own home. God blessed that ministry in spite of failing health. Many people came closer to God because of her teaching.
What could you do?
‘He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater’