Now that I am well into the AARP years most of my friends are fellow AARPters. We all had great plans as for our lives after retirement and some of us are actually living out our plans. For most of us however those plan have been revised. They were revised for many reasons; loss of a job that disrupted our pensions reducing and in some cases eliminating them; the Great Recession from December 2007 to June 2009 when 401k accounts lost most of their value; the loss of a spouse; serious illness of a parent, spouse or yourself; or some other catastrophic event. Those Golden Years we dreamt about and planned for turned out to be not so golden.
Here’s what the Bible says about those times.
1 Peter 5:7 CEV God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him.
Romans 5:3 NKJV And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;
I Peter 4:12-13 NKJV Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
James 1:2-8 NKJV My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
How to Have Joy in Your Golden Years Despite These 10 Life Losses
By RJ Thesman
People talked about the Golden Years as if they were some magical resort of rest and enjoyment. It wasn’t supposed to be this way — these years after we earned our AARP card. No cruises to the Italian coast. No easy retirement with plenty of money to do whatever we want. No easy choices for the next decades. So how do we deal with these not-so-golden years when the abundant life is elusive and everything feels like a loss?
John 10:10 NKJV The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
1. Loss of Friends.
Many of us attend frequent memorial services. We’re putting on pounds from the funeral potatoes and singing “It is Well with my Soul” so often, we have it memorized. But the worst part is that our friends are leaving us behind.
Sure, we know they’re in heaven, happy and free. But that doesn’t lessen the loss when we no longer have anyone to help us shop, go to the movies or eat out. We feel alone because we are alone. Grieving is our constant activity.
The loss of friends is deep because we know we don’t have enough time to make another lifetime friend. But we can make some new friends. Think about joining a gym, a yoga class, a Zuma class, volunteer at a school or hospital.
2. Loss of Work.
Many of us planned and looked forward to retirement. But the loss of job also means the loss of peers and friends. Our brains — once so active — now feel like mush. As carefully as we may have planned our finances, we are now at the mercy of the government for healthcare. Prices keep rising. Fear surges with each increase.
If the loss of work is pulling you down into a well of remorse, apply for a part-time position. Some companies like to hire senior consultants. There are actually websites for seniors looking for both part and full time jobs.
3. Loss of Purpose.
When we were working, many of us found purpose and significance in what we did every day. Now, that purpose is gone.
We need to find another way to define our significance.
Psalms 138:8 ESV The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord , endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
He created us for good works from the beginning of creation. We can still find divine appointments every day.
You might want to think about volunteering at a hospital, or a library, or a school. You may think about becoming a mentor or tutor to a young man or woman.
One of my friends volunteers in the NICU section of the hospital. She holds premature babies and helps them survive through life-giving touch. This activity gives her purpose. Some children are alive because she was present.
4. Loss of Health.
This loss may surprise us because it sidelines us so quickly. Many of our friends live with chronic pain and constant doctor visits. Their medical bills climb as their bodies decline. This loss is part of the aging process and ultimately — all of us suffer from it.
But we can look forward to that day when our weary bodies are left behind, and our spirits soar to heaven.
II Corinthians 5:6-8 NKJV So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
We can spend the down time praying for our families, surrounding ourselves with good music and reaching out via the internet to others.
When the losses pile up, we can easily slip into discouragement. But when the gloomies deepen and we find ourselves thinking more about death than life, it’s time to seek help.
Psalms 94:14 ESV For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage;
God is the one who satisfies us with his love every morning. When life seems hopeless, we can depend on the faithfulness of his love.
Talk to somebody you may even consider talking with a professional counselor or therapist. Get out of the house. Go see a funny movie and laugh really loud.
6. Loss of Memory.
The brain ages along with the rest of the body. But we can work to activate new pathways. First, don’t assume memory blips are the worst-case scenario. Talk to your doctor. There are certain physical issues that can cause a brain lapse. Allergies, diabetes, side effects from medicines — all these issues can lead to forgetfulness.
Nutrition helps, especially eliminating processed sugars. The herb rosemary is helpful for memory and so is turmeric. Do simple tasks with your non-dominant hand, such as brushing your teeth or opening doors. A simple change in routine opens new brain pathways. Breathe deeply and stop worrying about your memory.
7. Loss of Faith.
As we age, we may spend more time in reflection than dreaming about the future. We still believe in God, but we also remember the prayers and “why God” questions that weren’t answered. By this time, we expected God to rescue us and get us out of this mess. But it didn’t happen. The joy of the Lord is supposed to be our strength, but we don’t feel joyful. We feel weak.
“The question is ‘why’ but the answer is ‘Who.’” How has God been faithful to you throughout the years?
Focus instead on certain truths about God:
● He is love - 1 John 4:8-10 (HCSB)8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.10 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
● He is faithful - 1 Corinthians 1:9 (HCSB)9 God is faithful; you were called by Him into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.;
2 Timothy 2:13 (HCSB)13 if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.;
1 John 1:9 (HCSB)9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
● He is patient - 2 Peter 3:9 (HCSB)9 The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.
● He is forgiving - Isaiah 43:25-26 (HCSB)25 “It is I who sweep away your transgressions for My own sake and remember your sins no more.26 Take Me to court; let us argue our case together. State your ⌊case⌋, so that you may be vindicated.;
1 John 1:9 (HCSB)9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.;
Ephesians 1:7 (HCSB)7 We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
8. Loss of Dreams.
Your friends keep bragging about their lives, their kids and grandkids, you don’t have any, or they are not doing the things that you hoped for them. Maybe you’ve lost a spouse through death, or even worse the dreaded “gray divorce” that left you without a home or financial security. Your dreams floated away, replaced sorrow and regret.
Some people do realize their dreams and live out their last years surrounded with love. It’s hard not to covet their seemingly easy lives. We all have segments of Plan A that didn’t work out, so focus on a different direction. Re-identify yourself. Move in a different direction.
9. Loss of Passion.
When we were young, we felt great passion for the future. Maybe we signed up for a lifetime of serving God in ministry. Or we studied hard to earn our degrees and devoted our lives to one job.
Now, we feel dried up and used up. The positive emotions of passion no longer pulse through our hearts. Love for ourselves and others. Excitement about new projects. The fervor to set new goals and the energy to accomplish them. Gone.
Part of the grieving process is the level of acceptance. Sometimes we have to realize this is just the season we’re in. If we can find new passions — great.
10. Piles of Loss.
The most difficult loss is the compounded one. When we wonder if God and Satan are playing another Job-like game. This time, we’re the victims.
When everything piles up and losses accumulate, remember this is only a season. At some point, this mess will end. How we react today is more important than how we find our way out some time in the future.
Younger people are watching us. Family members still depend on us to be the matriarchs and patriarchs of faith. Life on this earth will not become easier with time. The book of Revelation is a constant reminder.
But we don’t have to let the losses destroy us. We can use some of the tools mentioned in this article and keep our focus upward.
When everything seems out of whack, repeat the lovely words of Isaiah 46:4.
Isaiah 46:4 (HCSB) I will be the same until ⌊your⌋ old age, and I will bear ⌊you⌋ up when you turn gray. I have made ⌊you⌋, and I will carry ⌊you⌋; I will bear and save ⌊you⌋.
Our loving God speaks hope to our hearts, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
Colossians 3:2-4 ESV Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.