Old age is one of the most difficult periods of a person’s life. Along with having a greater vulnerability to disease and having to depend more on others, many of the elderly suffer from solitude and a sense of uselessness. Nowadays, there is a greater social awareness about those who have reached old age. There are programs and projects for activities involving the elderly, with the objective of overcoming loneliness and idleness. But, as good as they might be, they do not always bring happiness to those who have lived long.
The Bible gives us many examples of people who reached old age and died happy and accomplished. One of them is the patriarch Abraham. In the book of Genesis, we read that Abraham “died in a good old age, an old man and full of years” (Gen. 25:8). A “good” old age means a happy, satisfied, blessed old age. When we read what the Bible says about the life of Abraham, it is easy to find out the secret to his happiness. There are at least three things that contributed to it.
First, Abraham was a man of faith all his life. Ever since the day God called him to leave his own country to become a pilgrim in a foreign land, Abraham learned to trust in God and depend on His promises. It is not in vain that Abraham became known as the father of faith and “friend of God” (Heb. 11:8–19; James 2:23). When someone learns to trust in God and depend on Him early in life, he will be in better condition to face the uncertainties and sufferings of old age.
Second, Abraham was a man obedient to God all his life. Faith and obedience go together. Abraham trusted God and therefore obeyed Him. The biggest demonstration he made of this was when he was willing to sacrifice his own son Isaac according to God’s will (Gen. 22:1–14). If we learn to obey God unconditionally early in life, when we reach old age we will have a tranquil conscience that God, whom we sought to serve throughout our life, will never forsake us.
Third, Abraham walked with God his whole life. Over the years, he developed a personal and meaningful relationship with God. God was an integral part of his life. Frequently, Abraham prayed, talked to God, and sought to listen and understand His will and follow it. Abraham continuously shared with God his joys and difficulties. Do not think that Abraham daily had visions where God appeared and spoke directly to him. Abraham’s visions were few and far between. He learned to walk with God by faith. When he became old, he had already walked with God enough to know that He was there, by his side.
Psalm 71 is the prayer of an old man asking God to rescue and help him. In it, the author reveals deep knowledge of God and a certainty that He will hear his plea. One day, Lord willing, we will all be old. We will pass through the same vale of tears that many are going through at this moment. Those who have trusted and walked with God throughout their lives will have a good old age, fruitful and full of meaning. Let us start today.