In this day and age, it is important to be proactive in teaching our kids to cherish the elderly and value all stages of life. The things happening to our elderly today in nursing homes and hospitals are reprehensible. Change begins now, in how we treat our own elderly family members under the observant eyes of our little ones. Are you cherishing the elderly God has placed in your life?
Time is funny. It gets away from us so fast, and when we look back we can see what we were actually giving value to in our lives by the way we used our God-given time. How much time have you spent valuing the elderly such as parents and grandparents in the last month? This is convicting for me, because it is very rare for me to call my own mother. We are heading there next week for a nice visit, but day-to-day I don’t even make the time to call her. And while she says she understands, and my life is super busy — that’s just not an excuse.
Here are some ways you can place a high value on the elderly and teach your kids to do the same.
Cherishing the Elderly in Your Family
- Make those phone calls or write those emails and texts regularly. Call your parents and grandparents if they are still living. Have your kids join in on the conversation and encourage them to enjoy those chats.
- Visit parents and grandparents as often as you can. A visit from children/grandchildren is often the highlight of the year for elderly people. Make it more often than that and make it more special.
- Write letters, send emails, send drawings and artwork, basically let your children send stuff to the grandparents. I know that my kids would do this way more often if I made it easy. Instead it takes me weeks to mail anything once they have it ready and they get discouraged. Think about how fun it is for you to get a personal letter or card. I actually save the letters my dad sends occasionally. Mail is special!
- Skype or FaceTime. Modern technology has brought us the ability to be face-to-face with our loved ones, but we don’t make time for this nearly often enough! Grandkids love to FaceTime!
- Celebrate Grandparent’s Day. Make sure your parents (and your kid’s grandparents) know how special they are. Visit if possible. If not, send cards or packages with artwork and/or a small gift. Spend some time on FaceTime or Skype or at the very least a phone call.
Cherishing the Elderly in your Community
- Make sure to greet the elderly in your church by name and try to get to know them. Many elderly people are separated from family, retired from work, and can be among the loneliest people around.
- Spend time with the elderly in your church! Invite them for dinner after church and just enjoy each other’s company.
- Meet the needs of the elderly in your church or neighborhood. This could include things like raking leaves, taking garbage to the curb on trash night, shoveling snow, taking meals, helping with housework or home repairs that have gotten too difficult, and taking care of vehicle maintenance. Those are just a few ideas though – what can you come up with?
- Visit the elderly in nursing homes and assisted living. Check with the nursing home social director to find out good times to visit and how to plan. Perhaps you could go once a week to play chess, sing hymns, or just visit door-to-door. This is a bright spot in what can otherwise be a very dreary day-to-day existence.
- Find out if your nursing home has an adopt-a-grandparent program for your kids. I had one as a child and was able to take gifts on Mother’s Day and other random holidays, write letters, and visit when my dad went to make the rounds of a pastor.
Talk about the Value of Life
It’s important to talk – especially with your older children – about the value of the lives of the elderly and living our lives to the full extent that God blesses us to live. Feel free to read and discuss some or all of the following with your children.
So many people are justifying the euthanasia of elderly people by saying that they aren’t living an adequate quality of life anyway. But what makes an adequate quality of life? Who gets to decide? And should the decision to end life ever be allowed to be made by the people who stand to gain most financially by the death of an elderly person?
Perhaps an adequate quality of life is simply to spend the last years or moments of your life surrounded by those you love. Nothing improves actual quality of life more than the presence of loved ones in relationship. Even in horrible pain and suffering, the truth is – God is sovereign and knows best. As hard as it is for us to grasp, sometimes suffering is a part of what brings us to him. So when it comes to the value of life in each of its stages, we need to honor God’s sovereignty as to when it begins and when it ends. It is He who died for us and He who numbers our days.
Talking Point: God ORDAINED each and every day of our lives! No matter our age, why would we want to mess with God’s plan?
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” Psalm 139:16.
How can we understand more about God’s plan for us?
Talking Point: So many people think the Christian life is one of ease and prosperity. I think our comfort usually tends to draw us away from dependence on Christ.
“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” 1 Peter 2:21.
‘Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!’ But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips” Job 2:9-10.
How can suffering change us for good?
Talking Point: The purpose of the Christian life is to live for Christ. This requires us to be in relationship with the people He has placed in our lives in order that we might impact others with God’s love as we draw closer to Him.
“And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” 2 Corinthians 5:15.
How can your relationships now and your relationships at the end of your life bring glory and honor to God?
Talking Point: If you are a Christian, the Bible says your body is the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you. This is true for all Christians, including the aged. Treating the bodies of the aged with tenderness and care (and in fact all of our bodies) is an outpouring of love and an act of respect for God’s temple. His home.
“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.
How do you think God feels when His temple is alternatively cared for or destroyed?
Talking Point: Our bodies decay almost from the day we are born. That’s a given over which we have no control. But our inner selves – over these we certainly have some level of control or influence.
“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
In what ways can you directly impact your own “inner man” and be renewed day by day?
Talking Point: Each of us has a choice to make – will we each choose LIFE or choose DEATH before we die physically in this world? This is not a physical choice – it is a spiritual choice each person must make.
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them” Deuteronomy 30:19-20.
How will your SPIRITUAL CHOICE impact any perceived physical choice you might be presented with in the years to come?
When we know Christ and live for Him, we know there will be pain and suffering. We know that as we near our later years, the fact that we live in a fallen world will increasingly take its toll on our minds and bodies. And the sad reality is, too many are not surrounded by loved ones in their old age. But keeping our eyes on Christ, and living for His purposes…. those things are eternally important, whereas the body and its ailments are temporary. We can set an example of faith and godly focus in the midst of our trials and who knows how God will use them? They could be some of our most impactful days!
I will never forget chatting with the nurses in the final days of my grandmother’s life. She chose a nursing home near her son which means she was about two hours away from my mother’s home and even further from where my husband and I lived with our first child. We visited, but not nearly as often as any of us wished to visit. It was such a blessing to hear from the nurses how Mimmie would sing hymns and pray for them and talk to them about Jesus even as she suffered with congestive heart failure for several years. Unable to read any longer, she had taped recordings of the Bible, which she listened to often, until she finally wore out parts of the set completely!
How we need to be respectful of the life God created, taking care not to make less of it in our own eyes simply because it doesn’t meet our expectations of what “quality” means. God’s perspective is so much clearer, isn’t it?
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