This topic arose yesterday and I decided to investigate what the interwebs had to say on this subject. This is a subject on which I think women are more expressive than men, but it would be foolish to think that men don’t experience this. (See the checklist linked at the bottom of this article to see if this applies to you.)
The first link I found was a scripture medley at OpenBible.info and this is just the first among many ESV scriptures posted:
… Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. …
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
…Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast… it is not irritable or resentful; …
As helpful as those verses are, one which struck me that should be on the list is:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (NIV)
So what are the circumstances of a mid-life crisis? It’s interesting to look at the other translations of this verse (use the same link above):
- The NLT focuses on possessions: “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.” How many people measure their success in life by what they own?
- The Berean Literal Bible focuses on status: “I have learned to be content in that which I am.” How many people gauge their life in terms of what they have achieved? (Or is this a reference to character?)
Additional translations emphasize each of these ideas.
I continued looking at other websites. At Crosswalk.com, author Wendy Alsup writes:
…In my teens and twenties, I had naive, idealized notions of how life was going to play out for me if I put my trust in God. Now, my life is not going quite like I thought it would. That disconnect between youthful expectation and mid-life reality has brought about a crisis of sorts—a mid-life crisis of belief…
…From afar, I may seem to have a fulfilling life. But I still have a deep unsatisfied longing.
I note that the longing only becomes more profound the older I get. As I age, the more people I know, the more individual needs I see, the more ministries I see grow, the more ministries I see crumble. Most of all, I see deep needs in my own life that are not going away. Through it all, I recognize that the God of my youthful imagination is not the God of my reality now…
…In the midst of this prolonged mid-life crisis, my dependence upon and appreciation for God’s written word has grown exponentially. God knew of this coming crisis in my life long before I was born, and I am not the first believer to experience it. Thousands of years ago, He recorded words that acknowledge this struggle and point us to the theological truths, the true character of our God, that meet us in it.
We are afflicted, perplexed, and struck down. But we’re not crushed, forsaken, or destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:7-10. We are sojourners who shouldn’t expect to fully feel at home on this earth (1 Peter 2:11). And our hope all along was never supposed to be about resolution of pain on earth. God has always called us to a hope and confidence in an eternal inheritance that gives perspective to our earthly struggles.
1 Peter 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.
God acknowledges through Peter that we for a while in this life are “grieved by various trials” (1 Peter 1:6). But those various trials are linked to a genuine faith that is more precious than gold 1 Peter 1:7, anchored in a glorious joy in Jesus, whom we do not now see but so very much love (1 Peter 1:8).
I am not the first believer to struggle through a variety of trials, nor will I be the last. God has not left us as orphans to navigate such mid-life crises of faith. He instructs us in His Word, and He is WITH us as we navigate it (2 Corinthians 4, 1 Peter 1. The more I study, the more I realize that the death of my naïve notions of how my life would play out have opened me up to truths central to the whole of Scripture that I needed all along.
2 Corinthians 4:7-10: But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
If this applies to you, feel free to share your story in the comments.
For further reading:
- A series of questions and checklists on this topic at Truth4Freedom.
- Your spouse’s midlife crisis. (Also the source of today’s image, above.)