Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth. (Psalm 71:9)
The Bible is a fascinating book and amazes every time we open its pages. There is nothing we face in life that God does not have the exact answer we need. For the young, the Bible speaks of the blessing of godly parents who raise them to know Christ. For the middle aged, there is vitality of life that can be channeled into the service of the church in the most rewarding, fulfilling life that can be imagined.
This psalm takes us to the twilight of life when strength has failed, when eyes are dim, and when we face death, an unknown that all of us fear. How appropriate this is when thinking of the many aged believers that are a part of the Berean family. I know many people that walk into churches and then turn around and walk out because there are too many “blue-hairs” sitting in the pews. While we love a good mixture of young and old, the young are not here to provide a positive balance against the negative of the old. There is far too much to be learned from the precious old saints to dismiss them as the “past” of the church.
Each of us should be compassionately aware of the daunting challenges our old members face. William MacDonald expresses this wisely in his commentary on this passage: “To grow old gracefully calls for more grace than nature can provide. Old age is a new world of strange conflicts and secret fears; the fear of being left alone, the fear of being a burden to loved ones, the fear of becoming a helpless invalid, the fear of losing one’s grip, the fear of being imposed upon. These fears are not new. The psalmist is here thinking aloud for the encouragement of all who are in the autumn of life.”
Never did this hit so close to home as when my own mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Parents do not want to become a burden, and yet the reality of a disease like Alzheimer’s leaves the person with no alternatives. The compassion displayed by my sisters to take care of our mother is beyond commendable. Though very difficult, they did not shrink from the responsibility because it was hard. These are things you do for people you love.
I believe we should see the need for the same as a church. Our older membership faces the same fears. This is not the time to ignore them. We must do a better job of helping to meet their needs. We do love them, don’t we? They are a long-time part of our family, aren’t they? God’s way of meeting the needs of the aged and allaying their fears is to have other Christians watch for them. As John said, “Let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)
When David prayed, “Cast me not off in the time of old age,” he knew God had a way to sustain him just as He had in the days of his youth. Have you thought God’s method may be you? Much of God’s work is fulfilled through human instrumentality. It does not often take an extraordinary miracle for God to accomplish His work. Your love and concern is God’s method. The kindness of a visit, a prayer, the reading of scripture for those who love to hear it—this may be the answer to their prayer, “Cast me not off in the time of old age.”
Pastor V. Mark Smith