“The Best and Worst States to Live in When You Get Old” – that was the news headline that got my attention one day as I turned my computer on. It was a story that was basically built around the aging population of America and the place was best to live in if you were old and the worst to live in. Now the way they determined the best place to live in was to look at all of the support systems for health and wellbeing, hospitals and specialized institutions to help people with their aging process and it also looked at the average income of people 65 and above living in those areas. Now what is interesting is that in 2000 according to this article, those 65 and above numbered about 38 million in America and now those 65 and above in America are somewhere over 50 million. “The graying of America” as it is generally referred is certainly taking place and I, of course, will not participate in the graying of our great country. But here is what the article said the best place and the worst place to live if you were growing old. Utah…Utah is supposed to be the best place. The worst place? Well, I absolutely don’t understand it, but they said it was Mississippi.
I agree with the person who said to me, “It would probably be better to live 65 years in Mississippi than to live 150 in Utah.” I’m not picking on Utah, I’m just saying that it may be that people in their 50s and 60s just think it’s been a 150 years. I’m not mad at the people who made the list; I’m just amazed at how they came up with the system of choosing and how they could rank Mississippi behind so many states as the worst place to live when you’re growing old. How could Mississippi come in behind North Dakota with all its bone chilling cold winters or Arizona with its 130 degree summer days? I can pick out several more states that I think would come in behind Mississippi, but I’ll just stop there and say that I don’t think that we rate number 5-0.
But as you think about growing old and what state you would like to be in, let me suggest to you the best state of all whether you’re young or old to live in. Just so you will fully understand, let me give you a verse of Scripture that talks about this state that you can live in. Paul said, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Phil. 4:11). Of course he was not referring to one of the 50 United States, but he was talking about a state of being and when you live in that state of being that he was talking about, you can be young or you can be old and it will be a wonderful place to live.
This is an Agreeable state. It is amazing how being agreeable in life can change the atmosphere where you live, but on the other hand at times, we may all want to lean toward being disagreeable. Some people more than others are disagreeable. In fact, some people are disagreeable so much that they think that God has given them a spiritual gift of being disagreeable. Not only will being disagreeable make your life miserable, it will, to extents far beyond your imagination even to comprehend, make everybody else’s life miserable. Living in the agreeable zone of life can lead to great delight. I so often think about the lady who living alone was about to that stage and age in life where she needed some assistance and her daughter wanted to take her to show her some assisted living arrangements. She went to pick up her mother and before they left her house to go and look at this living quarters the mother said, “Oh, I just love it.” To which the daughter responded, “Well, Mother, we haven’t even gone to see it yet.” “Well, I know, but I just love it. I just know I do.” And she said, “Well, you haven’t seen it. How could you love it?” And the mother responded and said, “Well, happiness is a choice and I choose to love it so that I will be happy.” For many that may be a stretch, but in all reality, approaching life with that spirit and being agreeable to what is happening in life even as you grow older is a blessed thing. It’s an incredible experience and being agreeable is a state in which you can bring joy to a lot of people.
It is also a Blessing state. How is that so? Well, if and when and where and how you get to the state of life where you spend more time trying to bless others than to get blessings in your own life, you will have arrived. You will both be receiving blessings and giving blessings and that is a glorious experience in life. If you want to live in this state of blessing whether young or old or aging, you will be required to each day set out to look for at least one person you can bless that day. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It doesn’t have to be someone you know, but to bless somebody else’s life, to go out of your way, to do the unusual, the abnormal, the above and beyond, the God guided thing to bless someone else. Now you may be able to do that before daybreak even comes.
A final state is the Contentment state. You can travel across the United States and not find a state where you can be right where you are and find it in your own heart. It was actually that that Paul was talking about when he said, “for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Phil. 4:11). It is a wonderful and amazing place to be content with who you are, what you have, what you’ve done and what you plan to do. Sadly, so few people are able to find this state.
A great old preacher of years gone by tells of his seminary days decades ago. When he had the opportunity to go and be pastor of a little country church out in a rural area he would travel there from his seminary post each weekend and stay with an old farm couple that welcomed him into their home. They were wonderful people but with very limited earthly resources and when he went to stay with him, they told him, “This is your room. You just come and make yourself at home.” And this is what they then instructed him, “One, if there’s something you need, just get up and get it. Whatever we have is yours. But secondly, if you need something and you can’t find it, well, just call us and we will help you find it.” But the most important thing they told him was third. “If you need something and you can’t find it and we don’t have it, we will help you learn to live without it.”
In a world of instant and total gratification of everything we want or need, it is a lesson that has been forgotten that you can be content with less or even with nothing and God can bless you and use you. What state are you living in? Oh, I’m not talking about Mississippi or South Carolina; I’m talking about a state of being that God wants to come and enter into in our lives and bless us all through the journey of life even into the aging process. Trust Him.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.