Am I Old and Useless?
In Jaques’ famous “all the world’s a stage” speech from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, he roguishly describes the stages of human life, the final phase of which sounds pretty grim: “The last scene of all, that ends this strange eventful history, is second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”
Solomon presents a similarly gloomy view of what old age does to the body. He speaks in unusual metaphors for muscles, eyes, ears, and teeth: “The sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark . . . when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim. . . . All their songs grow faint” (Ecclesiastes 12:2-4). Lord, how will I manage when I am old? Will there still be a use for me?
Scripture tells us many stories of how useful God’s seniors are. Paul was still a traveling missionary in his 60s, Abraham first left Ur for Canaan in his 70s, Daniel shivered in the lions’ den in his 80s, and St. John wrote the matchless book of Revelation in his 90s. God’s seniors can find serenity in knowing that in heaven their bodies will ache no more, but they should stay ready and alert in case God calls them to significant service yet on this earth.