What will it be like to grow old alone?
God makes it clear in the beginning of His Word that it is not good for man to be alone (Gen 2: 18). The immediate context of this statement brings about the creation of Eve, but the appearance of Eve becomes the means by which the whole human family comes into being. God has made certain that we are never alone.
However, although surrounded by people, we can nevertheless feel very alone at any time in our lives. For many, as they look to the future, we begin to worry about growing old. How will we cope as we become frail and perhaps ill? Our minds can fill with concerns about mobility, suffering pain and being unable to do simple things for ourselves. Certainly, through my own experience of recovering from serious illness, I had to recognise that without human help, I could not survive. The need for help at certain times is very real.
This is not just an issue for single people. For those who outlive their spouses, it can be even more acute. I know of people who have been widowed for well over 20 years. In the Bible, we read of Anna, who experienced a very long period of widowhood (Luke 2:37). This can be an issue that applies to everyone. She is a shining example of someone who put her whole trust into God’s promise that He cares for widows. (Psalm 68:5)
So where do we begin to find answers? First and foremost we read in Hebrews that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us (Heb 13:5). Our faith in what we are told here is the bedrock upon which we can stand in every trial of life, including this one. During our life’s journey with God, have we learned to depend on Him and experienced His meeting our needs? Can we continue to trust Him to provide for us as our needs increase in old age?
What else has he promised? Psalm 68:6 tells us He sets the lonely in families. We may have natural family, and church family that can help meet our practical needs. Sadly, our experience may be that these sources of help will fail. We cannot put our trust in man (Psalm 146:3). Jeremiah expands on this (Jer 17:5-8) and goes on to say “but blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him."
Jesus makes a bolder statement in Mark 10:29-30 "Truly I tell you," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields – along with persecutions – and in the age to come eternal life."
The bottom line is that ultimately we have no control over how our lives will shape up as we grow old. All we can do is trust in the promises of God, and have faith that He will uphold us until all the days ordained for us in His book (Psalm 139:16) come to pass.