Faith in Focus

Between you and me - ALONE but not LONELY



By way of introduction:


The Little Boy and the Old Man.

Said the little boy, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.”

Said the little old man, “I do that too.”

The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.
 “I do that too,” laughed the little old man.

Said the little boy, “I often cry.”

The old man nodded, “So do I.”

“But worst of all,” said the little boy, “it seems

Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”

“I know what you mean,” said the little old man.


It has been said that the greatest disease in the world is loneliness. When the mother of my children passed away I had them as my support group, though at times, being tidy by nature, I would despair when all I seemed to do was tidy up every evening after they had come home and dropped everything on the floor.

But when I buried my second wife and after the funeral stepped inside the door of my home all alone, the shock of being “alone” was almost unbearable. Coming home from shopping or visiting, I humoured myself by calling out at the bottom of the stairs: “Anybody home?” Not even an echo responded! In time I learned to accept the new status. It took time; much longer than I thought!

I am writing this not because I’m asking for sympathy or even pity! No! I relate this to you to show I understand what it means to be suddenly, or after a long illness, all alone after having been together for a good number of years.

One starts off as a unit of one, then marriage usually follows and having children, the seats around the dining table are filled as the years go by. The time comes when the offspring move out of the home for study elsewhere or to get married. Then there are  the two of you and you sit at opposite sides of the table. Then one of you passes away. There are still six chairs around the table, but only one occupied by the sole survivor.

It’s inevitable but this will accelerate in the coming years. The migrant veterans of the ‘first hour’ will gradually phase out but they know their times are in God’s hands. (Ps31:15). The new generation is already taking over the reins in the life of the church.

To be lonely does not necessarily mean to be old and alone of course; there are many of all ages who find themselves in such a position either by choice or by loss. There are those who find themselves alone because of separation and thus miss the support of his or her life-partner.

There are others who are lonely because they’ve built walls around themselves instead of bridges; they distrust attempts to be drawn into any comfort zone. Then there are those who are angry with their lot and envy the so-called “lucky” ones who are still together.

I knew one elderly man, years ago, who boasted that, seeing he had reached the age of three score and ten, he therefore claimed the rights of seniority and superiority. His bitterness and loneliness, came from the fact that nobody took him seriously and he eventually died a cantankerous old specimen. Though he knew his Scriptures well, he turned a blind eye to Romans 12:3 where it says “not to think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment,” etc.

The privilege of being old and alone is that we can surrender ourselves, physically and mentally, to the service of God as a living sacrifice. We should consider service to God to be our first order of business, testing where our talents lie and using them to their fullest potential for oneself and the community one belongs to. After all, none of us is an island by ourselves; we must take into account the way we live and how it will affect those around us. Whatever we do, we must do it for God’s glory and not to enhance our own ego!

One quite important thing is to find trusted friends to share the joys and pains of being alone. Victor Hugo, who wrote that magnificent novel “Les Miserables,” compared his friends to old coats, which feel so comfortable, have wrinkles, even a  bit worn, but do keep one warm.

The elderly ought to reflect now and then on the highs and lows in their lives, especially one’s lows when it must be confessed that, had it not been for the Lord, where would we be! Our heavenly Father does give us sufficient grace for whatever we face while still here on this planet.

No one needs to be reminded that our days are like grass, like a flower of the field where the wind blows over it and it’s gone before you know it and sadly no one will even remember its place anymore. Fortunately we do have those who have aged gracefully and have grown rich in the wisdom and knowledge and grace of God and thus become precious vessels in any congregation. Every congregation has them, thank God!

Through the ages the Apostle Paul in his letter reminds us that the secret of contentment is to know how to enjoy whatever you have and be able to lose all desire for things beyond one’s reach!

Just remember Paul’s advice to the Philippians (4:11): “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.”

Those who know they belong to Him are assured of eternal life. Isn’t that sufficient reason to be thankful and satisfied to find fulfilment in their “last” days till Christ’s Return or when He calls us to His eternal Home.

A Christian must not say: “It’s getting dark,” but rather say: “The new morning comes, the eternal morning.”  Right …. (?)    So….,  age gracefully!


“Old Coat” Dick G Vanderpyl

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Faith in Focus /NZ Reformed Church / / revised July 2000 / Copyright 2000