Ask around your faith-based assisted living community or church and you'll likely hear many of the same books. People like the happiness and peace afforded by Philippians, the adventure and power of God conveyed in Exodus or 1 Samuel and the stories of Jesus in any of the four Gospels. You don't often find someone whose favorite Old Testament book is Nehemiah, but there are valuable lessons in that story — especially for older adults going into or trying to make the most of retirement years.
Let's take a look at some lessons the Book of Nehemiah holds for older adults of faith.
In the first few verses of Nehemiah, he receives word concerning the remnant of Israelites in Judah and the state of Jerusalem. It's not good news. The men tell Nehemiah that the wall surrounding Jerusalem is broken down, the gates are destroyed and the people are in trouble.
Nehemiah's reaction to this troubling news is notable: He immediately turns to God in prayer. He says that he "continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven."
He was faced with news that was:
With such a daunting worry in front of him, Nehemiah did the only thing he could: He began immediately to put the matter into the hands of the God he loved and trusted.
Older adults of faith often deal with factors that are overwhelming, out of reach or bigger than their own concerns. How best to move into retirement, dealing with health issues, worries about grandchildren or other loved ones and concerns with the general state of the world are just a few. As Nehemiah did, seniors of faith should always begin by taking their concerns to God.
After praying and feeling that God wanted him to move on this issue, Nehemiah put his own resources into action. He was a cupbearer in a country that was not his own, so it might seem like he didn't have any resources. However, he was the cupbearer to the king.
Covering the matter in prayer, Nehemiah asked the king of Persia to help him do something about the ruins in Jerusalem. The king sends Nehemiah, along with many resources and helpers, to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls.
As you begin to live out your retirement, consider the resources you have and what God may want you to do with them. The call to steward resources well doesn't fade as you age, and God may still have plans for you in this life. Think like Nehemiah and ask God how your resources might be used for the Lord's glory.
Once Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem, he doesn't immediately jump into work on the wall. He and the people with him may have traveled for a while, discussing the plans and the good work they would do once they reached the city. Surely there was excitement and anxiety for the process to begin.
But Nehemiah first takes time to look over the project, taking stock of what he was working with.
Patiently approaching things can be important for people of any age. It can be tempting to jump immediately onto an idea because it sounds good, but taking time to do your research and make the best decision for yourself increases your success in the long run.
One example of this is in deciding where you want to live during retirement. It might be tempting to dig your heels into your existing home because you've lived there so long. But consider talking to God, your loved ones and others about your decision and gathering information so you can make an educated choice about whether something like a senior independent living community might be a better fit.
Finally, once Nehemiah and his people began work on the wall, they were constantly thwarted by naysayers and even violence. Still, resting firmly on his confidence in God's plan, Nehemiah pushed forward.
As an older adult of faith, you may have confidence in God's ultimate plan for you. You know where you're going and what the end result of this life will be. Stay the course through retirement, even when you feel thwarted by challenges.