The western idea of retirement is an interesting one, and to be honest, it may be one of the weaker ones out there. We are supposed to take care of our kids, our aging parents, needs in our faith communities, and the larger communities that we live in. At the same time, we are supposed to stockpile enough savings to carry us through 10, 20, or sometimes 30 non-working years referred to as retirement. Additionally, we are expected to live a long, healthy life, independent of all assistance from our grown children, our church, or our government.
This is the American Dream for retirement, and for some, they have been able to be prepared in this manner. However, for many of us, this is the American Nightmare full of shame, regret, and tremendous pressure.
How we wish we could go back and talk to our 22-year-old self and plead with him or her to put more money aside, but we can’t. To our chagrin, our retirement days can be some of the scariest we have faced. Can God be trusted during these days?
In Isaiah 46 (NKJV), the Lord is speaking to Israel about how He took care of them when they were young and would continue to do so in their golden years.
3 “Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been upheld by Me from birth, who have been carried from the womb:
4 Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.
5 “To whom will you liken Me, and make Me equal and compare Me, that we should be alike?
Not only are there issues of trust, but one of the biggest challenges is around the area of contentment. Simply defined, contentment answers the question—” Am I happy with what I have?”
There seem to be stages of contentment that many people go through. Progress is slow, and backsliding is common.
Stage 1- Complaint – I am not happy with God’s provision, so I complain. Secretly, I wonder how I got in this mess in the first place. I am not sure why, but I blame God for my situation. I am the unspiritual martyr. Glass is empty!
Stage 2- Compliant– I have resigned myself to difficulties and dutifully try to be faithful and patient. I am the suffering saint, but I do not like it. Externally, I put on a good face, but internally, I am not a happy camper. I have no choice! Glass is half-empty.
Stage 3- Confident– I have seen God work on my behalf so often, that I am growing in my willingness to wait on Him. Although, He still seems to be late a lot, but He has done it before, and He will deliver again. I am in a state of hardcore self-examination; maybe it is my expectations that need to be adjusted? Maybe, just maybe, God is providing all I need, but I have mixed up my wants and needs. When I am living paycheck-to-paycheck it seems like I have done something wrong or God may be trying to tell me something. I am the re-orienting redeemed. Glass is half-full.
Stage 4- Content -I am challenged by, but acclimating to, the idea that having my basic needs (food and clothing) is enough. Anything beyond that is a not an expectation, but a blessing. I am beginning to understand that this fleeting life is a tune-up for Eden-revisited, which is what heaven is about. What I am longing for is not found in the materialistic gains of earth, but my heart’s ache is for God and His Kingdom. Living on the financial edge is a blessing because it is an opportunity for me to stay close to the Lord and see Him actively involved in my life. I am the content Christian. I changed the glass, and the new glass is full!
As we work through the stages, what verses can we look to regarding the providence of God in our lives? There seems to be confusion in our hearts when it comes to what we can be confident of related to God’s provision in our lives. What exactly has He promised? Are there truths in Scripture that we can leveraged so that we can be full of faith instead of doubt in times of financial need?
However, the aging are experiencing new realities. Health and strength are waning. Finances are squeezing. Relationships are changing. Confidence is ebbing low. In our younger years, we may have had tremendous trust in the Lord, but now it is being put to the test. Can God be Trusted in our old age in our day-to-day life?
A.W. Tozer in The Knowledge of the Holy says, “Our insistence upon seeing ahead is natural enough, but it is a real hindrance to our spiritual progress. God has charged Himself with full responsibility for our eternal happiness and stands ready to take over the management of our lives the moment we turn in faith to Him.”
Let’s take a day-by-day look at Psalms 71 (NKJV) to see what God has to say on this matter. This passage is ascribed to David the king who was known by God as a man after His own heart. This study is intended to be taken at an exceedingly slow pace. We have divided the 24-verse Psalm into a 21-day study.
Join David as he thinks through this critical area from his new reality, perched on the porch in a rocking chair with a blanket in his lap.