Ecclesiastes 12:1, 7 Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
“I find no pleasure in them”—
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
The first part of verse one is quoted a good bit to young people, but the passage as a whole is a very depressing picture of aging. It shows that Solomon sought his joy in the wrong places, or he would not have found his senior years to be so gray. At the end of his litany of negatives he does make one very important acknowledgment: our spirits come from God, and return to Him when our bodies are finished. If he had acted on that understanding consistently throughout his life he would not have found it to be meaningless, as he says in verse eight. It has been pointed out that whereas average life expectancy has grown by leaps and bounds over the past century, if you could avoid wars and certain diseases, you had about an equal chance of living to advanced age back then as you do now. Then as now, the big question is whether you grow old well. Since Solomon didn’t do it, the key is obviously not in wealth (though having resources certainly doesn’t hurt). I am convinced the key to aging well lies in the first verse of this passage, and that is remembering our Creator. It does little good to think of God when young and then forget Him as we age. Apparently that is exactly what Solomon did. If we remember Him and order our lives in relation to Him, He provides joy and satisfaction “from cradle to grave,” as the saying goes. When we see Him in all of life and live in gratitude for His grace and mercy, then all the physical things that tend to accompany aging are minor in our awareness and priorities. When we understand how much He loves us and what He has prepared for us, then we know that our troubles are indeed “light and momentary,” (2 Corinthians 4:17) and much easier to put up with.
I am very aware of this issue, since I am currently 69, and my wife is not only a few months older, she also has Parkinson’s Disease as well as the after effects of brain surgery. Those things aren’t fun, but when viewed from the perspective of God’s love and grace, they don’t eclipse the many joys and pleasures God still has for us. I will be going to the doctor this morning for an inner ear issue that came up again a couple of days ago, but that too will pass. The point is that God still has us here according to His plan, and His plans are always good. (Jeremiah 29:11) We are to receive each day from His hand, looking forward to the blessings He has prepared and being grateful for them even ahead of time, in faith that they will be good indeed.
Father, thank You for this reminder. It really fleshes out the message You have for me to give at the interdenominational prayer breakfast on Wednesday. Help me recognize and make full use of every opportunity You give me to bless others with Your truth, so that the lies of the enemy may be defeated and people built up, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!