Even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me. (Psalm 71:18)
I do not want to be a grumpy old man.
God threatens terrible things to those who grumble (Psalm 106:25–26). Murmuring dishonors God who promises to work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). Complaining puts out the light of our Christian witness (Philippians 2:14–15). And a critical, anxious spirit dries up joy and peace (Philippians 4:6–7). That is not the way I want to grow old.
I want to be like the aging man in Psalm 71. We know he is getting old because he prays; “Even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me” (verse 18). “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent” (verse 9).
Looking at this man’s approach to old age I have formed some resolutions:
1) I will remember with wonder and thanks the thousands of times I have leaned on God since my youth. “For you, O LORD, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth, upon you I have leaned from my birth” (verse 5). “O God from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds” (verse 17).
2) I will take refuge in God rather than taking offense at my troubles. “In you, O LORD, I take refuge” (verse 1).
3) I will speak to God more and more (not less and less) of all his greatness until there is no room in my mouth for murmuring. “My praise is continually of you” (verse 6). “I will praise you yet more and more” (verse 14).
4) I will hope (doggedly) and not give in to despair, even in the nursing home, and even if I outlive all my friends. “I will hope continually” (verse 14).
5) I will find people to tell about God’s wonderful acts of salvation, and never run out, because they are innumerable. “My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge” (verse 15). “I will proclaim your might to the next generation” (verse 18).
6) I will remember that there are great things about God above my imagination, and soon enough I will know these too. “Your power and your righteousness reach the high heavens” (verse 18).
7) I will count all my pain and troubles as a gift from God and a path to glory. “You who have made me see many sore troubles will revive me again” (verses 20).
8) I will resist stereotypes of old people, and play and sing and shout with joy (whether I look dignified or not). “I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel” (v. 22). “My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to thee” (verse 23).