“In old age they shall produce fruit.” (Psalm 92:14)
We see a sharp rise in the number of persons over the age of 60 during the past 50 years in a ‘demographic revolution.’ By 2050 the number of old people in the developed countries will increase by 33.5% and in the developing countries by 19.3%. This creates problems in family and society. Society has a responsibility to take care of its old people. But many old people can take care of themselves if they plan and prepare for it. Bible is a great source book for aging gracefully.
Old age is not a time to wither away or to be rusted out in some corner. If one has the will and faith in God, old age can be made the golden age in one’s life. Bible conceives old age to be a time to produce ripe fruit. People who are outwardly focused, yet inwardly cantered, tend to age well. “Sarah live one hundred twenty-seven years; this was the length of Sarah’s life.” (Gen. 23:1). There are people who have had good start in early life and finished off poorly. On the other hand, there are people, like Sarah who started her life with a wandering husband, had to go into the court of Pharaoh and Abimelech against her will, had to fight with Hagar to regain her rightful place in the family and yet completed her life gloriously. Strife, sorrow and tragedy did not make her bitter or cause her to rebel against God or her husband. Jewish commentators say that the special way Torah expresses the number years of Sarah’s life was to emphasise the unbroken chain of purity, beauty and goodness of her life.
Psalm 90 gives normal human life span as eighty years. This Psalm is ascribed to Moses who embarked on his most productive period of life at the age of eighty. Aaron was three years older. Together they had led Israel out of Egyptian bondage. As we continue to struggle in life with new things, new thoughts and new enterprises we have greater likelihood of keeping fit and sharp.
Old people are storehouses of experience. Anna became a widow after seven years of marriage. She might have been despised and rejected by her family and friends, forcing her to seek protection in the temple. Many old people totally depend on old age homes, having no one to take care of them in the family. The high mobility of the modern family imposes hardships on older people. Sense of uselessness, loneliness, depression and rejection heighten the thought of death in them. Anna found a way out as she enjoyed fellowship among other worshipers. She was always in communion with God, fasting and praying day and night. She turned her problems into a blessing; crises in her life were converted to an opportunity to bless others, ever ready to express love and concern. Her old age or imminent death did not worry her to make her indignant to life; instead she loved life and hoped for future glory of Israel and salvation of the world.