Several days ago I experienced the improbable - I attended a 100th birthday party. We will attend countless birthday parties in our lifetimes, but most of us will not have the privilege of attending a party in which the guest of honor has turned 100.
An estimated 53,000 centenarians live in the United States. With so many you would think there is a reasonable chance of being invited to the big bash, but think again. This equates to less than two people in 10,000. So unless your social network is well into the thousands, attending a 100th birthday party is unlikely.
Realizing the statistical improbability of ever being invited to an event like this again caused me to meditate on my unique experience. There she was, the lady of the hour, sitting in a prominent place in the room wearing a "100th Birthday" sash and a big smile as children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren gave her big hugs and told stories of how she impacted their lives. It was truly a happy time. Being there would make anybody want to live to 100!
Yet, beneath the cheer of that wonderful day, a painful struggle hid from the detection of everyone except for a few close family members. Our beloved birthday girl did not want her 100th to come. Could it be that she had enough of life? Had the pain of watching those close to her die taken it's toll? Was the wear and tear on her body making everyday-life unbearable? Does she feel useless - unable to serve, help or contribute to the lives others?
I was given the task of praying before the party really got rolling and food was served. Knowing a little about her struggle, I wanted to share some words of encouragement from Scripture. This is essentially what I said:
1. Reflecting on 36,500 days of life, we can be sure that each one has been carefully, purposefully, lovingly and artfully crafted by God. The God who gazed upon you before conception, who "knitted" you together in the womb with His hands, and declares you "fearfully and wonderfully made" is responsible for every one of your days. Each one is "written in His book", not one is a mistake. That you have lived to a very old age is God's desire - He was pleased to write every one of your days into existence. (Psalm 139:13-16)
2. It is 36,500 days and counting. There is no telling how many more God has written into existence for you, maybe hundreds, even thousands more. Depending on the day, this could be good news or bad news for you. Like the Apostle Paul, there may be days when your only desire is to die and immediately see Jesus. But if God's desire for the next 1000 days is for you to live, you can be sure that he will give you the ability to serve Him faithfully and fruitfully. Paul worded it this way: "If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me." Your days to come are not empty spaces delaying the inevitable. Before time, God has planned to use you, His 100 year old servant, in ways that make Himself visible to others! (Philippians 1:21-24; Ephesians 2:10)
You may not know somebody who is 100 years old, but chances are you know somebody in their 70's, 80's or 90's. Each individual day is precious to the Lord. Encourage them with this truth!