The Position of Older Believers in the Assembly and our responsibility towards them-Part 2
Andrew Jessop, East Dereham, Norfolk [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
The needs of the carer
There is little time here to cover this complex and difficult area, but we must never forget the needs of those who have become full-time ‘voluntary’ carers. It may be the husband or wife of an elderly believer becomes sick, either in mind or body, and, suddenly, they are a full–time carer. The carers are often elderly themselves, but they do it anyway, but it can be a burden. Never forget the needs of the carers; we should consider ways to give them a break so that perhaps they can get out to meetings, even if the person they care for cannot be left. It may be that a younger son or daughter finds they fulfill this role for an elderly widow or widower parent. They too have physical and spiritual needs; they must not be overlooked just because they themselves may be healthy and well. It can be doubly difficult if the person doing the caring for a believer is unsaved or vice versa.
If our Lord returns very soon some may be spared from growing old. We do not know when that moment will be, so it may be that some of us, God willing, will grow old. As we age, many of the things we found so easy in our younger years become just that little bit more difficult and a lot more time consuming. Things that were easy can become a burden or even eventually just not possible. We have talked about spiritual needs, but there are practical needs that the Lord’s older people will face as age takes its toll and we need to face up to them and deal with them. Those who are older need to plan in advance to make their lives more manageable; if growing needs are ignored, they won’t just go away! If an aged saint has no family, or no family living in the area, and chooses not to move, he/she will need practical help.
This help may be a work of fellowship that can be carried out by those younger brothers and sisters who do not feel up to offering spiritual support. It may be as simple as cutting the grass or helping with shopping, perhaps help with attending hospital appointments, which do become more frequent as age takes its toll! There is, of course, help of a more specialist kind with advice on what financial and practical assistance is freely available from the Government. People have a right to these things and should not feel guilty about taking them! This kind of advice is perhaps best left to an expert, but a good general level of knowledge can be gained from internet research, again something a computer literate brother or sister from the assembly could carry out, followed by some help filling in the forms.
Dependency on the Lord! But we must fulfill our responsibilities individually, as brethren, family, and those in fellowship at the local assembly. ‘And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me’, Matt. 25. 40. There could also come a time when the very frail or dementia-suffering believer’s care needs can no longer be met at home. For those of our readers with responsibility for making the decisions, don’t forget the spiritual needs when making your decision. A Christian care home will be able to provide equally good care as a secular care home and will, in addition, provide fellowship with other believers and will, at least in part, provide some of the spiritual helps that are still needed by the aged pilgrim.
Finally, let’s not forget that for the believer, old age is not a dead end. The light just grows brighter as we walk the final steps on the narrow path that leads to glory!