EMOTIONAL DIFFICULTIES AS WE GROW OLDER
Well - the title of our small group - from the very beginning is GROWING OLDER GRACEFULLY - and today we’re going to talk about some things that almost every person deals with as they get older and older and older! Some of those things are these: LONELINESS - BOREDOM - WORRY - FEAR - LOSING YOUR INDEPENDENCE - AND THE LIMITATIONS OF GETTING OLDER.
These are some very big subjects and they can be different for all of us - BUT - MOST OLDER PEOPLE HAVE TO DEAL WITH MOST OF THEM AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER - AND THE LORD REALLY WANTS US ALL TO GROW OLDER GRACEFULLY AND NOT LET THESE THINGS HOLD US DOWN.
SO - WE’RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT THEM.
Now - when we start getting into our mid 60’s, then 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, life presents us with big changes: Our bodies start giving us problems we didn’t have before - like weaknesses in all our body parts like seeing, hearing, pain in various parts, not as much strength as we used to have - and on and on. Often, much of our life is affected because of these weaknesses that didn’t used to be there. Then because of some of them, it has an effect on our abilities in various areas of life, like driving, shopping, etc.
Of course, our age brings about change in our finances and we have to make choices in all kinds of realms.
Also, when we have these weaknesses in our bodies, we have to deal with PRAYING FOR HEALING, MEDICAL APPOINTMENTS AND MEDICINES - AND HOW TO DEAL WITH BOTH OF THEM. THAT’S A VERY BIG SUBJECT. WE TALKED ABOUT IT IN HERE A COUPLE OR THREE MONTHS AGO - WE’LL PROBABLY TACKLE IT AGAIN.
Then, of course, one of the most difficult realms of change is the loss of loved ones - our husbands or wives - our parents - and on and on. If you’ve been married for many, many years, and your mate has moved to heaven, that loss is a struggle to deal with along with all the others.
So the Lord wants us to deal with some of these types of struggles.
First - let’s talk about LONELINESS. If you are a widow, a widower, or perhaps a divorcee, or maybe never married, it is common to deal with feeling lonely - like you just don’t have anyone to REALLY talk to who REALLY understands you and where you’re coming from. Like I say all the time, each one of us is unique, so we’re all so individual! We’re not just like someone else. Sometimes, we are lonely because of the loss of a loved one - someone close to us. Sometimes we’re lonely because we feel kinda’ forsaken by our kids or siblings. We know they’re busy with their lives but we feel like we just don’t matter as much to them as we used to. Sometimes we feel lonely because we just can’t do as much or be around others as much as we used to - and we begin to feel isolated. At the same time, we don’t want to feel like we’re a burden to them.
Now - loneliness is often accompanied by BOREDOM. Life just isn’t as much fun as it used to be. We watch a lot of TV - but much of the time, that, itself, is boring. Same ol’ - Same ol’! We spend a lot of time by ourselves, thinking about when life was fun - and often we think a lot about money issues.
Now - this is what the Lord wants us all to understand. I’m going to say this slow! We older Christians are precious, precious, precious to the Creator of the universe. All those younger Christians do not have the time that we do to get to know the Lord better and better every day of our lives while we’re still on this earth. He delights in you considering Him your BEST FRIEND and spending time talking to Him, reading His Word, and talking to Him about all those verses. He wants to reveal Himself to you more deeply than ever before - BECAUSE YOU HAVE TIME NOW THAT YOU DIDN’T HAVE BEFORE. Think about it for a moment - Here you are, a believer in Jesus Christ, a child of God, an heir of God, and if you spend your available time soaking in His Word and in talking to Him, He can use you in ways that were not available to Him when you were younger. He wants to use you to help others see who He really is and what He’s really like.
Now - that’s not all! He also wants to bring people across your path that will definitely be a blessing in your life. I’m going to read a verse - and I want you to think about it differently than you have before. It’s one that I’ve used before but, remember, we’re dealing with LONELINESS AND BOREDOM. It’s Luke 6:38 - “Give, and it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” This isn’t just talking about money!!!!! It’s talking about the fact that if you have a need in your life, give to someone else who has a need in their life, and it will be flowing back to you - because that’s the way God does things. Tell the Lord, “Father, in the name of Jesus, show me someone who needs a friend. I want to give unto them and be a friend to that person. I want to do things your way, Lord. I believe you’ll meet the needs in my life.” You will be amazed at the way God does things. God loves it when you and I take Him at His Word, and do what He says. It may not happen 15 minutes after you pray - but, after you’ve prayed that way, begin to thank Him for hearing you and tell Him you believe that He’s working it out for you. If you need someone to agree with you about this, tell me - I’ll pray with you and be in agreement with you. Also - I suggest that you use your own voice and tell Loneliness and Boredom to leave your life, in the name of Jesus. Tell them they’re not welcome in your life because you are a child of God.
I want to share one other verse with you. I’ve shared it before but it’s very important in this subject. First, let me say that the Lord used this verse at a time in my life which was extremely difficult. It was 1999 and my husband had moved to heaven. We were very close and I was devastated. He got sick and couldn’t seem to receive his healing, after he had laid hands on, and prayed, for many others who had been healed. I was at the lowest point in my life. As I laid on the floor, praying and praying and praying, I flipped open my Bible, and my eyes fixed on Hebrews 13:5. It says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I got up and read it in every translation I had. I love the Amplified - but it’s a lot longer. The words, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” came alive to me that day. I didn’t have to feel alone - He would always be there for me - I could always count on Him - I could tell Him anything - He would always be available to me - He would never let me down!!!! It was certainly a “Me and Jesus” moment like no other for me, and I have never forgotten it and never will.
Now - let’s talk about WORRY!!!!! I am sure that everyone knows exactly what ‘worry’ is. We learned how to worry when we were children - I’ve told you my story about childhood - and my crossed eye - and therefore a strong ‘inferiority complex’ and felt like everybody was thinking I looked weird and ugly. As a little girl, the only time I didn’t worry about people thinking I was ugly, was when I was with my family. I was at peace with family. I REALLY LEARNED HOW TO WORRY! We all have different lives so it’s different for all of us - but I guarantee you that all have had times of worry.
As we get older, there are many things that can bring worry into our minds - AND WE HAVE A LOT MORE TIME TO SPEND THINKING ABOUT THEM THAN WE USED TO HAVE. I know of older Christians who spend time worrying about when they’re going to die and how, where, who’ll be with them or will they be alone, and on and on and on.
I want to share with you what I have learned in my life that has pretty much eliminated worry from my life. There’s some verses in this realm which have changed my life. The first is 1 Peter 5:6-7 - “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, CASTING ALL YOUR CARE UPON HIM, FOR HE CARES FOR YOU.”
Now - I want to read two more - Philippians 4:6-7 - “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH SURPASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING, WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND MINDS THROUGH CHRIST JESUS.”
I have learned that worrying over your day-to-day life, over your body problems, over your time of moving to heaven, and on and on, is just a tool of the enemy (whose name is Satan) to keep you from walking in peace and victory. I have come to face the fact - WITHOUT FEAR AND WORRY - that we’re all going to die - why worry about it? I’d rather just go to heaven without a lot of suffering or pain. I’ve heard of others who have done that.
What powerful verses - what powerful promises!!!!! I have sat and read those verses over and over and over. Then I have read them in every translation of the Bible available to me. I have read them outloud to myself - so that my own ears can hear - and I make them personal. (READ PERSONAL)
Brothers and Sisters, when you spend time communing with the Lord and in His Word, worry becomes a thing of the past - because you are so close to the Lord and you know that you know that you know that He will take care of everything. An overwhelming PEACE becomes more real than any situation or problem. He has ways to work things out that you can’t even imagine.
I remember that period of time after my husband moved to heaven in 1999. Boy, did I need the PEACE OF GOD!!! These verses became more alive to me than ever before!
Let me say here that WORRY is closely related to FEAR. As we get older, we know lots of people who have already moved to heaven. Some of them experienced lots of pain and suffering. We don’t want that - in fact, we are fearful of that. I have precious memories of my mother’s passing. She knew and we knew that she was moving to heaven. My sister was on one side of the bed and I was on the other. We began to sing her favorite songs to her. Just our two voices - not loud - just quiet and peaceful. Amazing Grace and many others! My mother had her eyes closed and had this little smile on her face. At one point, I said, “Mom, you’re hearing Linda’s and my voices right now but pretty soon, it won’t be our voices anymore - it’ll be angels’ voices.” She smiled this big smile (her eyes were still closed) and - then in about 5 minutes, she was gone! She moved to heaven with a big smile on her face.
Brothers and sisters, let’s just all be so in love with and in communion with the Lord, that we don’t spend the rest of our time here on the earth in worry or fear. God still wants to use us while we’re here. He wants us to keep these “containers of ours” (as Mike Atkins said) open for Him to flow through us to help other people.
One of the other things that brings frustration into our lives as we’re growing older is the LIMITATIONS OF GETTING OLDER. We can’t flit around like we used to - therefore, it sometimes feels like we can’t make our own choices like we used to be able to do - especially when we don’t drive anymore. We don’t like being dependent on other people - yet, it feels like you don’t have a choice anymore about where and when you go places. Therefore, you find yourself kinda’ feeling sorry for yourself. So-o-o-o-o-o-o this is what I want to share with you - Get ready because these words may bother you at first - Put a smile on your face!!!! Often, we have allowed ourselves to form a habit pattern of being SELF-CENTERED. Now I know you don’t want to hear that - I don’t either - but brothers and sisters - we have to face the truth. Self-centeredness is the lifestyle of our culture that we live in - so much so that most people, even born-again, spirit-filled Christians are living that way and don’t even have a clue that they are. Self-centeredness is a 24-hour daily attitude about me, myself, and I!!! It’s all about me - me - me - what I want, what I need, what I like, what is good for me - and on and on. Personally, I believe it is the opposite of AGAPE LOVE - THE GOD-KIND OF LOVE.
The way to overcome self-centeredness is to fix your attention on JESUS - and then look at other people with His kind of LOVE - AGAPE. Instead of allowing your mind to dwell on the LIMITATIONS IN YOUR LIFE now, begin to be thankful and grateful that you’re not living in a grass hut somewhere in the world, without a bathroom, or a kitchen. Personally, I have learned, and am still learning, to be continually grateful for all that my kids have done for me over the last 24 years that I have been a widow. We’re all not perfect - but all of us are a work in progress - we haven’t arrived - but we’ve left!!!!!!
In other words, I have learned that, instead of keeping my mind centered on all that I can’t seem to do anymore, to fix my attention on all that God has done for me - through my kids, through other family members, through miraculous situations which cannot even be explained, through wonderful Christian brothers and sisters.
Let me share this with you - to show you what I mean. The move from Port St. Lucie to Leesburg was very difficult for me because I was so attached to my church there and all my friends there. I was very involved in my church and taught in different groups through the years - led several prayer groups - was on the team of several different ministry groups - and, of course, my Monday Morning Ladies Life Group that I led for 15 years, where we discussed the sermon from the Sunday before, and prayed together. We got too big several times and other groups were born from ours. Leaving was very difficult. As we were getting ready to move, my 6th book was published. The church had a meeting for me called, ‘A Book Talk,” where lots and lots of people came. A friend handled it all for me, my pastor, as well as several others, were all there, helping. They had me speak about my book - lots and lots of people bought books - there were refreshments and goodies to eat. They did that all for me. What a wonderful blessing it was. I love to remember it and think about it. Then, after we got moved and all settled in, at Christmas time, the ladies group that I had led all those years, now led by a precious friend of mine, had a Christmas gathering at a restaurant in the area - and invited Debbie and me to come. My friend, who now leads the group, had us stay at her house. At the gathering, they had arranged a special place for us to sit in at the restaurant so that we could visit with everybody. They spoke to me wonderful stories how the group had changed their lives.
What wonderful times those were - and I love to remember them and be grateful for all the people in my life to have shown me so much of that Agape Love!
You know what that does? It helps you keep your attention fixed on Jesus and the people He has shown His love through to you. How can you be ungrateful, and sorry for yourself, and SELF-CENTERED?!!!!!
Yes - as we grow older and older and older, there are limitations in our lives that we didn’t have before. We can allow ourselves to get into the mullygrubs - or we can fix our attention on the ONE WHO GAVE EVERYTHING FOR US - JESUS - AND ALL HIS WONDERFUL CHILDREN WHO HAVE BLESSED US IN OUR LIVES.
Now, as I have said many times before (but I’m just going to remind you now) - We are 3 part beings - spirit, soul, and body. Your spirit was there from your physical birth, but it was dead - there was no communication with God. Your soul is where your mind, will, and emotions are. AND, you know your body! When you were born again (when you received Jesus as your Lord and Savior - by believing in your heart and speaking through your mouth) - your spirit came alive. When that happened, all those wonderful gifts and blessings (we’ve talked about them - love, joy, peace, and so on) came into your spirit.
Therefore, all that we need to overcome Loneliness, Boredom, Worry, Fear, and Limitations (that we’re talking about today), is already in our new born again spirit. BUT WE HAVE TO ACCESS IT. We, as human beings were given a free will (in our soul) and God will not whoosh down and overcome your free will. That’s not the way He does things. You and I must yield the right-a-way to Him and receive these blessings into our lives. (AGAIN, MIKE ATKINS TALKED ABOUT THAT LAST WEEK - QUIT TRYING TO DO THINGS IN OUR OWN STRENGTH AND GIVE IN TO HIM) That’s what God wants for all of us. He wants all to go well for us but we must let the strength and power of Jesus be the way we live our lives - like I say all the time when I’m praying - “I want Your Way, Yahweh!”
I have learned that, as I get older, YES, there are things that didn’t used to be in my life that I have to deal with - BUT - I HAVE A CHOICE - I can either feel sorry for myself, and sit around with a self-centered attitude - and, of course, put a smile on my face when somebody drops by - but when they leave, go back to feeling sorry for myself!!!!!! OR I can go back to the WORD - and just slowly read all those wonderful things that the apostles told us about Jesus and soak in those wonderful epistles that tell us how we are to live, act, feel, and on and on. Then, I can talk to the ONE WHO LOVED ME SO MUCH BEFORE I WAS EVEN BORN, AND SUFFERED TERRIBLE TORTURE THAT I CAN HARDLY EVEN IMAGINE - SO I COULD BE WITH HIM FOREVER. WHAT LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!
I can thank Him, praise Him, sing to Him, claim His promises, ask Him for help in anything that I need help with. You know what, just this past week, there were three or four times that I needed help just with little things which were not monumental. I just shared it with JAHWEH and asked Him to guide me. In each situation, it was just less than 5 minutes, and into my mind, came the thought (that was the solution) that I needed in each situation.
What a privilege to be a child of God - and not just a child - but an HEIR OF GOD.
I want to share two verses with you (they’re the last ones on the Scripture page) - 2 Peter 1:2-3 - “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the KNOWLEDGE of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the KNOWLEDGE of Him who called us by glory and virtue.”
Man oh Man - what powerful information! The KNOWLEDGE of what God has done for us is extremely important to us living in victory - EVEN IN OUR OLD AGE!!! If we choose to sit in our house, feeling lonely, worrying, being fearful, and concentrating on our limitations, we will not walk in victory. BUT, God calls us “MORE THAN CONQUERORS (I talked about that a couple weeks ago) - and the only way we can walk in victory and be more than a conqueror, is by filling our minds with what He has already made available to us - In other words, we have to fill our minds with HIS KNOWLEDGE. We have to fix our attention on the promises. They’re not fairy tales, or just pretty words that have no meaning. We have to take them personal and say them outloud to ourselves so that our own ears can hear HIS KNOWLEDGE that He has given to us in His Word.
Next week, we’re going to be dealing with FORGETFULNESS!!!!!!!!!
Scriptures used for this lesson
1 Peter 5:6-7
2 Peter 1:2-3