Messenger of Peace—April 1915
How to Grow Old Gracefully
Old age brings with it weakness and a sense of incompetency to do things that were easy in the prime of life. Barzillai’s little speech (2 Sam. xix. 35-37) is sensible. He could not enjoy the bounties of the king’s table, the mirth and music of the palace. He preferred the quietude of home. This was graceful in Barzillai who was then more than four score years old. He requested David to take his son with him.
The old cannot participate in the entertainments and amusements of the young, and should cheerfully relinquish their interest in them. Barzillai gave to old men a good example. We should submit to old age cheerfully. It is said of Joseph that his great-grandchildren were “brought up on his knees”. One can almost see him in the homes of his grandchildren assisting them in caring for their little ones. When grandfather is cheerful and contented, he is a welcome guest; and while they need the help of their children they may pay for it in cheer and. pleasantries.
Old people ought to cultivate a gentle spirit, and try to make themselves agreeable and welcome in the homes where they stay. When they grieve and brood over their misfortunes, and repeat their tales of woe, their best friends will tire of them. But when grandfather is cheerful and content, his presence is sweet to his children. We should look on the bright side of things, and remember that the Lord will at last rescue his people from every sorrow.
Old people should love their church and study its interest. It is their home and will be the home of their children for generations to come; they should attend its meetings and receive the comforts of the Word, for it is ordained for their comfort
It is not best to resign posts of duty too soon. Many men have continued to preach well up to the eighties, and even upwards of ninety. Gladstone held that men retain their moral strength by using their minds in investigation. Thomas A. Hendrix did the same. Elder G. M. Thompson was a student to the last, and was strong and vigorous mentally.
When David was old, near his death, he directed events so that Solomon was made king in his place, and this act of his was one requiring good judgment. Solomon also, when near eighty years old, overcame a strong conspiracy to prevent Rehoboam from being made king in his place. And Rehoboam rejected the counsels of old men and followed the advice of young men to the ruin of the kingdom, thus showing that old men are safe advisors.
When old men are studious and take care to keep informed, they may be of service to the church to the last. It is true that old men may be indiscreet, holding on as pastor of a church too long, to the injury of the cause; but the judgment and feeling of the church will indicate when he had better resign.
Old people should avoid being childish, ill-natured and peevish, or jealous-hearted; they should try to be but little or no trouble to those with whom they live. I have seen old folks beam with cheerfulness and contentment. Elder Vancleave once said that old men should grow old as a sound pear ripens—grow sweeter and sweeter till it drops from the tree. There is much to think of that would nourish and cheer good will in the aged. Our afflictions are light and but for a moment, followed by an eternal weight of glory, and are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us.
The Lord will provide for our children to the end of time; and inasmuch as we cannot provide for them, we should trust them in the hands of the Lord who will provide for them. It. is comely for one who has ever taught others to trust the Lord, to put their trust in him also, even down to old age, and to wear a trustful, hopeful countenance among their friends.
by Elder James H. Oliphant
Submitted by Elder David Montgomery
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