Discrimination in any form is unacceptable because it goes to the worth or lack thereof we place on someone. Although many types of prejudice are in the forefront of public consciousness lately, I don’t consider ageism one of them. Our society sees the very young and the very old as negligible, insignificant, and unable to contribute anything of value. I’m so thankful God doesn’t see us that way.
Daniel is a great example of this. When he was just a young man (Dan 1:4), he and many other youths were ripped from their homeland and taken to Babylon. They were to be trained for three years then enter the service of the king. Though a stranger and a teenager, Daniel respectfully asked if he could not eat and drink what had been provided for him because it went against Jewish dietary laws and would dishonor the Almighty. He proposed a test that ended up proving that God’s way of eating was healthier than the king’s, which changed the way all the men in this program were fed (Dan 1:8-16).
Once their training was complete, the king discovered this about Daniel and his three friends: And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. (Dan 1:20 ESV) Pretty impressive – and valuable – for youths!
But if we know one thing about Daniel, it’s that he miraculously survived a night in the lion’s den. Children’s books of this account often picture him as child but that was not the case. Because of the different kings (Nebuchadnezzar and Darius) and the historical dates they reigned, we know that Daniel was about eighty years old when he stared down those lions! Not bad for an old man! Even as an octogenarian, Daniel was distinguished above all the other presidents and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. (Dan 6:3 ESV) Which is why he ended up in the lion’s den because the other officials were jealous and set him up to die!
There are many other examples of very young and very old individuals in the Scriptures who did significant things for the Lord and their society. David was a boy when he defeated Goliath (I Sam 17:42). Josiah became king when he was eight years old and II Kings 23:25 says this about him: Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him. (ESV) Moses was eighty when God called him to go to Egypt to free the Jews (Ex 7:7), and John was in his nineties when he received the revelation from the Almighty and wrote it down in what has become the last book of the Bible.
No matter which end of the spectrum we find ourselves on, we need to know that God wants to grow and use us. And if we are somewhere in between, may look at those who are much older or younger with respect and anticipation that the Lord has work for them as well.
Just something that makes me feel valuable along the way.