As I was reading in the book of Job (long o), I was struck by his statement, “Oh, for the days when I was in my prime.” (Job 29:4) For many people, their dreams of growing old gracefully have been shattered by the grim realities of broken health. I remember my dad sitting in his wheelchair, telling me, “They used to call me ‘speedy’ because I could run fast.” I believed him, but I could not picture my father in his youth, running fast. Those days were long gone.
I relate to Job, and at this time in my life, I have a better understanding of Solomon’s words in the last chapter of Ecclesiastes; they are so accurate. In the very first verse, he refers to old age as “days of trouble.” (12:1) Then he poetically describes the pitfalls of old age.
- Strong legs and back weaken – “the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop” (12:3)
- Loss of teeth – “the grinders cease because they are few” (12:3)
- Eyesight deteriorates- “those looking through the windows grow dim (12:3)
- Hearing fades – “when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades (12:4)
- Sleep is not as deep – “when men rise up at the sound of birds” (12:4)
- Voice is not as strong or clear – “songs grow faint” (12:4)
- Fears of falling and of crowds – “when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets” (12:5)
- Hair turns white – “when the almond tree blossoms” (12:5)
- Walking is more difficult – “the grasshopper drags himself along” (12:5)
- Romantic desire diminishes – “desire no longer is stirred” (12:5)
- Increase of strokes and heart attacks – “the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken (12:6)
- Death – “dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God” (12:7)
In light of the eventuality of old age and death, Solomon’s advice is clear. “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
Like Job, we may wish we could revisit our youth, but we cannot. Knowing that death will come for each of us, it’s vital to have a love-relationship with God. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus has made that possible. If you haven’t yet received Christ, I hope you’ll do that soon.