Here is another valuable reflection from the aging Archibald Alexander (1772-1851) on ministry to aging saints. Here, he speaks of the value of studying “the book of divine providence,” looking back thoughtfully over the wise and gracious way God has guided our steps over the course of our lives:
. . . we have some advantages not possessed by the young. We have received important lessons from experience, which, if they have been rightly improved, are of inestimable value. The book of divine providence, which is in a great measure sealed to them, has been unfolded to us. We can look back and contemplate all the way along which the Lord has led us. We can now see the wise design of our Father in many events, which, at the time, were dark and mysterious. The knowledge to be derived from studying the book of God’s providence, cannot be communicated to another; the lessons are like the name upon the white stone, which none can read but he that has it. The successive events of our lives we can make known, but the connection which these events have with our character, our sins, and our prayers, can be fully understood only by ourselves. He who neglects to study the pages of this book, deprives himself of one most important means of improvement; yet many professors of religion appear to pay little attention to the providence of God, in relation to themselves. If they meet with some severe judgment, or some great deliverance, their attention is arrested and they acknowledge the hand of God in the dispensation; but as to the succession of ordinary events, they seem to have no practical belief that they are ordered by divine providence, or gave any important relation to their duty or interest. I would affectionately entreat my aged brethren to make the dealings of God’s providence towards themselves, a subject of careful study. There is within our reach, except in the Bible, no source of instruction more important.
Archibald Alexander, Thoughts on Religious Experience (1844. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1998), 269.
A theme I regularly try to bring out in both my public and private ministry to aging brothers and sisters is the faithfulness of God to them, all the days of their lives. This is a an effective, edifying way to stir up gratitude to God and assurance of his love, particularly during difficult and uncertain times.