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Purpose and Aging

Many of us struggle with helping aging parents.  In caring for them we suffer physical, emotional and financial strain, but gnawing away at our insides and even the faith of some of us is a question.  What is the purpose of their life at the end?  This is especially difficult because we love our parents, have learned so much from them and hate to see them appear to be so helpless. 

I was helped recently by the example of Edith.  George and Edith are longtime members of our church in Topeka.  They served the Lord in Japan.  George is friendly and warm, but I have never heard Edith speak since we arrived over three years ago.  She suffers from dementia, and they now live in assisted living facilities.  Edith has not been able to attend church for some time.

Last week George told my wife and me that one of the residents at the facility choked on some food that had lodged in this esophagus.  The lack of oxygen was such a shock to his system that he had a heart attack.  As he was fading, Edith held his hand and said, “I want you to know that I am a married woman, but I’m going to stay here and hold your hand.”  Edith held his hand until he passed into eternity.  Two minutes later she had no memory of what she had done.

The Scriptures remind us that the ways of God are past our finding out.  In reality, we do not know what is going on in the hearts and minds of those aged parents who often seem to be completely unaware of their surroundings and incapable of helping others.  We do not know what work God is preserving them for.  We must walk by faith and not by sight.

Nevertheless, this I do know.  The grace of God is more powerful than the diseases that eat away at our human capacities, and at the moment of a friend’s greatest need God’s grace enabled Edith to help him go through the valley of the shadow of death.    I take hope in that.  I pray that you do too.




2 thoughts on “Purpose and Aging

  1. Thnaks Bill, Now an “aging parent” myself, the issue of purpose/mission at this stage of life is one I’m wrestling with. We’ve moved to a retirement community near Madison and are ,for now, independent. But I’m only marginally involved in Faculty/Grad ministry. We’re ` 20 miles form church,though still heavily involved. So, in our new location-geographically and socially, what does He have for us to do, can we do it and how well; these I reflect on a lot. No answers yet. Perhaps the suitabloe answer for now is “wait and watch”.
    Terry Morrison

    1. For some reason, I’m no longer getting these comments sent to my email; so I missed theis one. We’ll be praying for you. I am confident God will continue to use you.

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