This book is bursting with kindness. Its aim is to ‘highlight misconceptions about old age – from a biblical viewpoint’ and to ‘encourage older people, generally’.
Each chapter deals with a negative emotion – for example, regrets over past failures continues with relevant Bible passages and suggestions for addressing the situation and ends with prayer. The chapters are thoughtful and would help believers of any age. I found the title itself conflicting, because ‘still valued …’ has implications of ‘in spite of’, as with a car that has high mileage but is ‘still going well’. Yet God designed old age on purpose. His intention was that throughout our lives we would develop attributes and character that only come with a long life. God’s
purpose for older people was that they would become the elderhood of society. This is one of the reasons that we should rise in their presence (Leviticus 19.32). Pastor Coghlan acknowledges this when he writes: ‘Faithfully following Jesus will lead to acquiring great spiritual knowledge and wisdom. It is a call to respect older people. It is a call to value older people.’ So why do we not value old age and acknowledge the ‘elderhood’ of older people? Even worse, why do our seniors not see it themselves? Why the negative thinking
which this book so compassionately addresses? My research shows that it is ingrained, unrecognised, corrosive ageism. We have absorbed the world’s view of age, instead of the Bible’s. We look on the outer appearance instead of the inner and we do not give older people the position God intended. God’s design for older people and their purpose needs to be part of church teaching. All of us need to hear it. And seniors need to be intentionally released into the roles Pastor Coghlan mentions, such as mentoring, listening and teaching (see Paul’s advice to Timothy). ‘Look for the open windows,’ is the last sentence in the book’s narrative, but understanding God’s purpose means that, for His seniors, it is we who should be opening them.
Review was written by The Church’s Ageism
Louise Morse, media and communications manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society, a Christian
charity caring for older people. She is also a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and author.