THE JOYS OF OLD AGE
A sixth letter to an elderly person
A happy old age! Is such a thing possible? Do we ever meet with an old worn-out person who is really happy? Is the evening of life ever bright and sunny? Yes, such a thing is quite possible; and we now and then meet with it. Though the body is decayed by time, though the limbs are feeble and the mind somewhat weakened too, yet still there may be a calm joy within, a peace which time can never wear out.
Dear brother or sister, do you wish to be happy? I know you do;
or every one is a seeker after happiness; though many look for it in .the wrong direction, and therefore never find it.
Shall I tell you how and where to find happiness? The world cannot give it to you. It holds out large promises, but it has no peace to bestow. Friends cannot give it to you. It is a blessing to have kind friends, and to be surrounded by those who love us. But this cannot give peace to the conscience. Money cannot give it to you. It is well to have enough, and something to spare. And I dare say, you often
long to be a little richer than you are. But money cannot drive away care. It cannot bring joy to the heart.
What then is it that will make us truly happy? The grace of God is the one great thing that can bring peace to the soul. Oh, what a happiness to know that He is your Father and your Friend! to be able to look up and feel that He is yours, and you are His – this is happiness.
You have sinned – perhaps very long and very greatly. But remember ‘God is love’. He is full of mercy and ready to forgive. He sent His dear Son to save sinners. And He will receive every penitent sinner who comes to Him through Jesus Christ, looking to His precious blood to save him.
Yes, dear friend, you may be very happy – happier in your old age than you have ever been before. God can give you happiness; and He will give it you if you cast yourself on Him, and take Him as your portion.
Now go to God, and ask Him to show you your sins, and to pardon them all for Jesus’ sake. Oh, seek Him in earnest prayer, and never rest till you have found Him. Pray for the Holy Spirit to come into your dark soul and enlighten it. Beseech Him to change your evil heart – to take away all that is wicked in it, and to fill it with what is holy and good. Ask Him to show Christ to you, and to enable you to believe in Him. Ask Him to lead you in that blessed path of holiness, which He points out for His people. Then you will be happy. Here is the grand secret of all peace. Here is rest for the weary soul -joy for those who have never tasted it before.
But there are two or three more hints I should like to give you.
Try and take a bright view of everything. Look at things on their sunny side. Do not dwell much on your pains and aches, your troubles and infirmities, your trials and misfortunes. They may be very great; but they will not grow lighter by always harping on them. Rather love to dwell on your many blessings, and your many mercies.
You will say, perhaps, “I cannot help thinking of my troubles.” Yes, but you can help it, by making an effort to do so. A dull complaining spirit grows upon people sometimes without their knowing it. Do try and check it, or it will make your days miserable for you, and displeasing to God.
Determine to be content with your lot, whatever it is. Paul says, ‘I have learned’ (ah! and he found it a good lesson when he had learned it) – ‘I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.’ A thankful and a contented spirit is a continual feast. We ought to be contented, and we shall be contented, if we are in the habit of seeing God in everything, and living upon Him from day to day. Oh for a spirit of true thankfulness!
Oh, for a heart to praise the Lord,
A heart from sin set free,
A heart that’s sprinkled with the blood
So freely shed for me!
Jane Down was a woman of about sixty-five. She was well off in the world, having a little money of her own. I never went to see her but what she found something to complain of. Either her head ached; or her knee troubled her; or somebody had been speaking against her; or the weather was too hot or too cold. You could at once see that she had not found out the secret of true happiness. She was a constant trouble to herself, and a weariness to her friends.
Widow Kingston lived near her. She was supported partly by her son, and partly by charity. But her cottage was as clean and tidy as Jane Down’s, though she had not half as many things in it. She was sure to welcome you with a smile, if you went to see her. She was sure to say something pleasant; and you felt afterwards that it did you good to pay her a visit. She had not much of this world’s goods;
but she possessed Christ. She loved her Saviour, and it was her greatest joy to speak of His goodness. There was a calm peace in that poor widow’s heart, which nothing could rob her of. Having Christ, she had all.
What made the difference between these two elderly people? What made the one contented and happy, while the other was sour, discontented, and miserable? It was grace that made them to differ. The one was under the influence of the Holy Spirit: the other was destitute of His indwelling power. The one knew Christ and loved Him: to the other He was a stranger.
Try and live above the world. A ship that is homeward bound cares little for the winds and waves, so that it sails speedily towards the desired harbour. Heaven is the peaceful harbour you wish to reach. Why then think so much about the storms and tempests which buffet you on your way? They will soon be over. Face them manfully. Take them patiently. Bear them meekly. Keep your eye ever fixed on Christ and eternity. And then the evils of this present world will not greatly trouble you.
Oh that Christ may give, dear friend, His own peace – that peace which He promised to His people when He said, ‘Peace I leave with you: my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you!’