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For 15 years now my wife and I have been involved in various aspects of care for “seasoned saints” (as one preacher so described our dear aging parents and friends). As most know, there have been blessings and challenges. My Dad and Bro. Royce (Dr. J. Royce Thomason-founder of The Voice in the Wilderness) both had serious, debilitating strokes. Such traumatic episodes affect every area of life. Caregivers, in some cases, make great sacrifices to help their loved ones. My mother dedicated 10 years to the care of my Dad when his stroke left him unable to speak, use his right arm, and limited use of his right leg. My wife’s mother became very ill in her early 70’s and her Dad, now age 83, had open-heart surgery a year and a half ago. Among other issues, he has not recovered to a satisfactory level.
My Dad and Bro. Royce passed in 2006 and were followed by my mother-in-law and brother-in-law in 2008. Life is fragile at best, but we know God makes no mistakes. Even though the valley may seem ever so deep, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” No matter how difficult the place you find yourself today, HE is already there:

When difficulty, disease, and even death come our way, Lord help us to trust and pray while we faithfully do what is right. Amen!
The following detailes the opportunities the church faces today in ministering to aging “senior saints.”                           
For decades, Pastors and churches have built gymnasiums and beautiful sanctuaries with the monies of those now neglected and forgotten.
At this very moment, I am personally acquainted with a number of families giving care to aging loved ones. In several instances, complex or serious illness presents health and financial issues. The AAHSA website states:
 Between 2007 and 2015, the number of Americans ages 85 and older is expected to increase by 40%.
 Among people turning 65 today, 69% will need some form of long-term care, whether in the community or in a residential care facility.
 In 2020, 12 million older Americans will need long-term care.
 The average monthly cost for a private room in a nursing home is $6,234.00.
 The average monthly cost of living in an assisted-living facility is $2,714.00.
 Medicare, which covers rehabilitation services after an individual is discharged from a hospital, pays for 19% of all long-term care spending.
 Medicaid, which covers health care cost for low income individuals, pays for 49% of all long-term care spending.
 Each month, the world’s population of elderly people increases by 795,000.
Medicare and Medicaid Programs are not adequate, and working in the system can be very frustrating. Even among many who have diligently been a part of the work force, presently retired and living on retirement income, are finding they have outlived adequate benefits for today’s financial demands. Sickness and aging impacts an entire family. By faith, day by day, many brothers and sisters struggle in a difficult place. For some it can be an almost overwhelming journey through a deep, dark valley. Yet when the Christian thinks the sun will never shine, the light of God’s Son rises in His dawn of peace and grace through ways amazing. Praise the Lord, a new day is coming.
In our church three elderly sisters arrived at that stage in life when this tabernacle of clay begins to dissolve. I remember distinctly those precious ladies saying, “We all got old and sick at the same time.”  “Now none of us can take care of each other.”  It can be frustrating when dear ones suffer and there are no simple solutions to the trial. With modern drugs and so-called “heroic medicine,” many live longer but experience extended periods of complicated assistance. For the individual, as well as the family, the challenge brings intense emotion of tears, resentment, anger, and extraordinary love. Yes, love, love that may seem a bit mixed-up at times, but real, the same.

I.  The Evil Days
Have you ever studied Ecclesiastes 12:1-8? The preacher makes some incredibly accurate and relevant comments on the aging process. In verse one note the startling phrase “...while the evil days come not.”
Just this week while door knocking, my wife and I met a man who said he did not believe in God, and the Bible was written by men with over 5,700 different translations. He also stated that men created gods just to have hope. Some day that man will be a lonely, hopeless individual. But for me, hope is a precious gift (Romans 8:24, Colossians 1:27, Titus 2:13).
Even so, for many “the evil days” will come. Dr. J. Royce Thomason, Founder of The Voice in the Wilderness, Inc., told me many times he wanted to die in the saddle with his boots on, but that was not to be. The last five years of his life were spent in and out of hospitals and nursing homes. He was never able to deal with confinement and sickness. When the driver’s license, independence and meeting schedules were gone, his obvious struggle with contentment ensued. Yes, “the evil days” had arrived.
My dad lived ten years after a very serious stroke. Mom was his primary caregiver, and it was not easy. For both of them, long days and nights of testing came all too often. Physical limitations, prescription drugs and side effects, personality changes, financial constraints, bureaucracy, red-tape, added sickness and a host of complications defined the “evil days” of Ecclesiastes. Mom and Dad were not alone in that struggle. But friends, relatives, and acquaintances that came by to keep them company, help, or assist, still could not make this time of life easy.
Less than a month ago a pastor friend called my office. In our conversation he stated emphatically, “I will never get involved in someone else’s Power of Attorney or as Executor of a will again.” He had been placed in an ugly, complicated situation. People you would never think to have a vicious, vengeful bone in their body can, in the last chapter of a loved one’s life, become greedy, bitter and absolutely unreasonable, to put it kindly. The “evil days” have come.

II. The Critics
Then, some will make it a spectators’ sport. Onlookers have all kinds of advice and always know how it ought to be done, and are always compelled to tell you. With that, their criticism can be so unkind. Stories are told and well-meaning people will believe an utter lie. However, they would certainly never want such things said about them. Yet, they will take the tale and run with it knowing the circumstances but preferring to spread gossip. Just as Job experienced the extreme, his suffering was compounded by his “friends.” Listen to Job 30: 1, 2. “But now they that are younger than I have me in derision, whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock. Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me, in whom old age was perished?” To add insult to injury, Job received no respect or understanding from the younger. The pain is both physical and psychological. My KJV study Bible has this header for Job Chapter 30 “The humiliation of Job’s present state.” Dr. J. Royce Thomason said to me several times after his debilitating strokes, “These golden years aren’t what they were cracked up to be.” Some may agree that their golden years have tarnished or as Job felt, they had gone to the dogs.
“Christians” can be some of the most critical know-it-all’s imaginable.  Just like Job’s friends, there will be those who know exactly what is going on in your life.  Be forewarned.  This is the very reason we all need a good church home and church family.  I have heard it said many times every person needs three homes.  Of course, there is our family’s home.  Thank God for husbands, wives, children and parents that love each other.  Then there is the church home.  So very special is the truly New Testament church home!  And most importantly is our eternal home.  For the young and old alike to trust Jesus Christ by faith, having one’s sin forgiven by His precious blood with our names written in the Book of Life is the home we all need assurance of.  During those times of suffering, and especially during the aging process, the counsel we need will come from our church family and friends.  Three C’s are so very essential:  Church, Counselors and Contentment.

1.  Church – The Apostle Paul speaks so lovingly of the church at Thessalonica.  He remembers with thanksgiving and prayer their “work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father...”  What a church described in I Thessalonians 1:1-10.  This was a church comforting one another with words of godliness, resurrection and Christ’s second coming.  They were hope, a crown of rejoicing, glory and joy.  May God help us to be that kind of church.

2.  Counselors – Please note section V for important Scripture references.  Read carefully Psalm 1.

3.  Contentment – Have you ever heard it said that the little baby is so contented?  What a blessing – contentment.  “...for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content”  Philippians 4:11.  I Timothy 6:6 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”  We can say that Jesus is all we need – “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”  But do we know Jesus is all we need until Jesus is all we have?  When the evil days come we will be tossed by every wave of worry and care unless we practice contentment in Christ.  This is not complacency not apathy.  But it is indeed confident faith in Him who is able and worthy – Hebrews 4:15,16.  To sing the song of Contentment, one must practice, practice, practice.  While the evil days come not practice the song of contentment in Christ.

From a biblical standpoint, there are many reasons for suffering:

1.    Sin – Keep a short account.
    I John 1:9
2.    Satan - Take unto you the armor of God.  Ephesians 6:16
3.    Self  - Remember now while the evil days come not.  The choice is yours.
    I John 2:15, 16.
4.    Sowing  - You sow, you reap.  Galatians 6:7-8
5.    Sweetening – We can be better not bitter.  James 1:4
6.    Sanctifying – He is still working on me.  John 17:17

When the final chapter of our life is written, may we say with the Apostle “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”  II Timothy 4:7.

III.  Physical Changes
Our text notes the physical changes brought on by aging. Matthew Henry makes an important point here for us all. There are calamities in old age. If we live to be old, Mr. Henry says there will be times of no pleasure.  “...which is a good reason why we should return to God, and make our peace with Him, in the days of our youth, and not put it off till we come to be old; for it will be no thanks to us to leave the pleasures of sin when they have left us, nor to return to God when need forces us. It is the greatest absurdity and ingratitude imaginable to give the cream and flower of our days to the devil, and reserve the bran, and refuse, and dregs of them for God...”  It would be worth your time to read Mr. Henry’s commentary on Ecclesiastes 12:1-7. What a poignant question he gives to ponder – “How can we expect God should help us when we are old, if we will not serve Him when we are young?” See Psalm 71:17,18.
Ecclesiastes 12 outlines the physical failures of aging:

1.    Verse 2 – Failing eyesight, diminished faculties and repetitious episodes of pain. 
2.    Verse 3 – The head and body shake, tremble, and grow feeble. Discouragement and depression easily sets in. The legs and mobility is hampered and halted. Arms and hands become weak. The teeth rot, brake and deteriorate with old age till digestion is affected.
3.    Verse 4 – Here is our term for “shut-ins.” Old age make for “shut-ins,”  “shut-outs” and sleeplessness. The mood, attitude, personality, disposition and total perception of life may dramatically change. Hearing fails and the voice cannot sing.
4.    Verse 5 – Fears in life of heights, falling, and all the little worries are overwhelming and large. Gray hair has come and life ebbs away.

It is true that some age better than others. A friend said to me recently that her father had always been an easy-going and very kind individual. But now in old age, he was grumpy and demanding. Yet, another friend said their parent had always been a critical and difficult person to get along with. However in old age, they had mellowed and were now such a joy to be around. Isn’t that such a curiosity? What would make the difference? Years ago a pastor’s wife assumed the care of her sister dying with cancer. The sister had been such a beautiful person, but now age and disease made the change. She was rude, unkind and even used foul and abusive language. The sister-caretaker was often brought to tears and heartache by this loved one’s vile outburst. How can that be?
Time does not permit me to recount the multitude of stories over my 30 plus years of ministry. I cannot explain all the complexities of old age and sickness. But “Remember now the creator...while the evil days come not...”   Verses six and seven remind us that “the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Matthew Henry says, “Death will fix us in an unchangeable state.” We will go home “for here [we are] a stranger and pilgrim. Why should we not long to go to our Father’s house?”
MY KJV study Bible has this footnote for Ecclesiastes 12:6-8 “The silver cord, golden bowl, pitcher, and wheel symbolize life’s fragility. How easily death comes to us; how swiftly and unexpectedly we can return to the dust from which we came. Therefore, we should recognize life as a precious resource to be used wisely and not squandered frivolously. Stripped of God’s spirit, our bodies return to dust. Stripped of God’s purpose, our work is in vain. Stripped of God’s love, our service is futile. We must put God first over all we do and in all we do, because without Him we have nothing. Knowing that life is futile without God motivates the wise person to seek God first.” That must throughout life bring us to the scripture “...seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). It is framed in this view of life that by faith we trust Christ. Ultimately it is He who will set the record straight. Our spirit will “return unto God who gave it.” Then and only then will there be no more tears, no more sorrow, no more crying, no more pain and no more death (Rev. 21:4). There is a remedy. God has provided for those who believe.

IV.  Do you always get what you want?
Dr. J. Royce Thomason told me many times he wanted to die in the saddle with his boots on. In other words, it was his desire to depart this life actively involved in the ministry. However, that was not to be. After his strokes in 2001 until his death in 2006, an agonizing five year struggle with limitation and deteriorating health made for a difficult journey to the finish line. Much of that time was spent in the hospital, rehab center, and several nursing homes. That was in no stretch of the imagination what he wanted.
Over the years repeatedly I’ve heard family members echo the same story. He or she did not want to be placed in a nursing home. He or she did not want to die in the hospital. Never did he or she want to be bed-ridden and a burden on family or anyone else. Today the growing population of the aged and infirmed has created a strain on family, finances, and available resources. Medicine and science has given longevity but all too often, quality is a challenge. Yet for Christians and the local church, a door of opportunity lay open.  No, this may not be the most glamorous of endeavors.  Yes, it will cost the church a lot of time and money.  Yet so many Bible preaching, fundamental churches have missed out or even neglected the responsibility to assist elder members and their families.  It is time to urge our congregations to reach out and help this precious, vital and needy segment of membership.  Primary caretaker relief assistance is urgently needed.  Visits just for fellowship are so important.  Transportation, shopping trips and doctors appointments can be a challenge when no help is available.  Calendar, schedule and medication management can be a daunting task when eyesight fades and mental accuracy wanes.  Young people can get involved with errands and lawn care.  An army of volunteer rescue workers are presently sitting idle in church pews that could mean the difference between life worth living and a slow sad death for elder saints.
Your church could even build an assisted living facility for the aged in your congregation.  Or maybe it would take several churches working together to pool resources for such a facility.  Liberal denominations have done it.  Cults have done it.  What about fundamental Bible preaching churches?  Maybe it is not what we want, but could it be the right thing to do?  For decades, Pastors and churches have built gymnasiums and beautiful sanctuaries with the monies of those now neglected and forgotten.  Talk about a debt we owe.  And have we even missed a wonderful evangelistic tool by failing in this highly visible opportunity to demonstrate love in action to the lost world around us?

V.  Sit down and talk
Don’t assume anything. There comes a time for a family meeting. Families within a family have issues, and for all individuals involved life can be complicated. There are work schedules, financial constraints, even health considerations for caregivers and other family members. Often those involved live away and travel distances which will be factors of consideration. Personalities and opinions vary. Sitting down and talking things out will not always cure all. But ill-feelings may be averted if people take time in a considerate, loving manner to discuss details, needs, plans, and options. It is good to have a pastor and godly individuals to give objective, impartial counsel. The family should have a support group of Christians, particularly in the local church that can help work through issues and challenges. All of us need brothers and sisters in Christ we know that pray and have God’s wisdom in their lives. It is biblical to seek counsel (Prov. 11:14, 12:15; 13:10; 15:22) and bear one another’s burdens. Regardless of what you think, your opinion is not always best. Be willing to listen to others. Above all, sit down and talk with the Lord. Read His Word and allow His Spirit to guide you in all truth. If we will be still and wait on the Lord, He will bring the right people and resources into our lives.  By the way, Psalm 116:15 is still true.  Therefore, make preparation for your earthly estate to continue to be of eternal worth via your will.  Vollmer said, “One of the most important documents a man ever signs is his will.  I can tell better what a man had in his heart by reading his will than I can by reading his obituary.  His obituary tells the world what his friends thought of him; his will reveals what he had in his heart.”

VI.  Science or Faith?
In 2005, New Scientists magazine reported that Italian researchers were developing a six-legged robotic camera that crawls around inside the body and attaches itself to the intestine wall.
At the time, researcher Dr. Ariana Menciassi, of the St. Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, said, “All the indications are that this will be far less uncomfortable than a colonoscopy or gastroscopy in which the intestine is inflated, causing much pain to the patient.”
Men are looking to medicine and technology for the answer. Government should fund all our needs. But reality is – the body wears out and “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Hope for eternity free from sickness and death is available to all who believe. Thank God for His love, grace and mercy that provides the answer to this decaying body and inequities of this life. Our Creator will, in the conclusion of all, make things right for His Children.
The numbers are rather curious. It has become a complicated situation for many. Reports are that 4.5 million children live in grandparent headed households in the United States. The first of 78 million boomers have passed age 60. Then the aging population costs big bucks and extended care. It sounds callous, but sadly scores are outliving their retirement and savings. Medicare and Medicaid simply are not adequate. Reports say there are 34 million unpaid caregivers providing an average of 21 hours of care per week. These caregivers spend an average of $2,400 out of pocket each year to help their relative. Of course, politicians prey on the emotions and ignorance of voters looking everywhere and sometimes anywhere for relief. Nearing the end of life, the great pioneer missionary, Hudson Taylor, said, “I am so weak, I cannot work; I cannot read my Bible; I can hardly pray. I can only lie still in God’s arm like a child and trust.”
 - The Beginning.