When we read Genesis Chapter 5, we are amazed at the longevity of Adam and his descendants who each lived long lives of a few hundred years. Lamech had the shortest life of 777 years while Methuselah lived the longest – 969 years. Except for Enoch who walked with God and was taken away by God when he was 365, life for the rest was one of painful toil and labour and they needed to be comforted (Genesis 5:29). Hence, longevity is not a blessing if life is one of trouble and sorrow brought on by sin.
God no longer blessed man with longevity when sin entered his heart. The life expectancy of man was shortened to 110 years since the time of Joseph, and most did not live beyond 120, the age at which Moses died. In his psalm, Moses wrote, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10)
Our life will be one of sorrow and misery when we live in sin, whether it is of our own doing or others’. In John Chapter 5, an invalid for 38 years had waited by the Bethesda pool for healing for a very long time, and he lay there in pain and suffering until he met Jesus who changed his life.
In Luke Chapter 2, we read of two characters whose lives were fulfilled when they encountered Christ – Simeon and the 84-year-old widow, Anna. There was also the apostle John who, in his old age, was banished to the island of Patmos where he died eventually. His final days seemed bleak and desolate but his life was positive and full of hope because of his deep faith in Jesus as the Alpha and Omega of his life, and his firm conviction that Christ would come again.
According to a report published in Lianhe Zaobao (28 May 2015), the average life expectancy of Singaporeans is 80 years for males and 85 years for females, the fourth highest in the world, matching what Moses said in Psalm 90. Although this is nowhere near the ages of the early Bible characters, our lives can still be of significance if they are fulfilling and joyful.
We have many seniors in our congregations and this is a valuable community to be cherished. They can continue to be a great blessing to the church and society because of their life experiences, their testimonies of faith and their abilities, and many of them are still enjoying robust health and are financially comfortable.
I would like to bless all our elders using the words of old Caleb who, together with Joshua, had been sent by Moses to spy out Canaan: “So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.” (Joshua 14:10-11)
Although this is nowhere near the ages of the early Bible characters, our lives can still be of significance if they are fulfilling and joyful.
Picture by arekmalang/Bigstock.com
The Rev Dr Chong Chin Chung was re-elected President of the Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) in 2012 for the quadrennium. He has been a Methodist pastor for 31 years and has been a guest lecturer at Trinity Theological College since 1996.