Proverbs 3:13-18 New International Version (NIV)

Blessed are those who find wisdom,
    those who gain understanding,
for she is more profitable than silver
    and yields better returns than gold.
She is more precious than rubies;
    nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
    in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are pleasant ways,
    and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
    those who hold her fast will be blessed.

At the age of 97, Ruth is our oldest member.  A couple weeks ago, she shared some perspective with the other members of our Wednesday morning Bible study group.  Ruth has seen snowstorms as high as the second story; she has lived through the Great Depression; she served in the Navy during WWII and watched our nation come together then to face a common enemy, and in the years afterward to rebuild the economy.  She’s seen stock markets crash and the smallpox epidemic eradicated.  She’s lived through the threat of nuclear war.  A sign on her door reads, “There’s nothing that happens today that the Lord and I together can’t handle.”

Ruth’s wisdom, and the cumulative wisdom of a generation, are what we are protecting today.  She’s not worried about the current crisis.  “I’ve gotten through everything else,” she says.  “And we will get through this, with the Lord’s help.”  Many younger people (and in comparison with Ruth, this means almost everyone!) have not had the experience of living through such things, so they receive every news story with panic and fear.  But we have a lot to learn from our oldest citizens, if we are willing to listen.  In the coming months, their words will prove invaluable.

We did not ask to make the sacrifices that are imposed on us now, but these sacrifices are all for a good cause: the protection of life, of history, of wisdom, of knowledge, of experience.  The coronavirus affects people of all ages, but the elderly are especially vulnerable.  They raised us; they taught us; they shaped our faith; and they are teaching us still.  May we cherish this treasure that is “more precious than silver, more costly than gold.”