Midlife Crisis: God's Checkpoint
Most women experience physical and emotional changes at midlife, as they go through menopause. Some men at this age also experience depression or a type of struggle known as “midlife crisis,” as they have to deal with the fact that they aren’t as strong physically as they once were and worrying about their future productivity and usefulness.
Midlife crisis not only affects those going through it, but it often puts a strain on their families and others near them. So understanding the changes and challenges that come at midlife is not only important for those of us who are at this age, so we will know how to handle it, but it’s also important for others, so they can relate to and support those who are going through this stage of life.
This time in your life can be one of the best periods, one of the happiest and most fruitful and satisfying.
Midlife crisis can be explained scientifically in terms of physiological changes that normally occur in the human body at this time, but to best deal with the physical and emotional problems involved, or to help others who are having to deal with those problems, we need to try to see midlife from the Lord’s point of view. As is so often the case, He sees things differently than we do, and He can explain many of these things even better than the doctors and experts, although we can surely benefit from their counsel also.
You won’t find the term “midlife crisis” in the Bible, but the Bible does contain lots of counsel that applies. Some of it is especially helpful to those who haven’t reached that age yet, as it teaches the importance of having loving consideration for others, bearing one another’s burdens, and putting yourself in another’s shoes. And, as always, the Lord promises to recompense us for the time and effort we give in caring for each other.
All part of God’s plan
Our limited human understanding can’t grasp all that goes on with our bodies as we grow older. As King David said, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). But the Lord is able to help us understand as much as we need to if we will look to His Word and go to Him in prayer for the answers to our questions and problems.
The Lord allows this period of uncertainty as a crossroads or checkpoint, to force us to take stock of our lives to be sure that we continue in the direction that He wants us to go. Whenever we come to an important crossroads like this, our outlook has a major bearing on the outcome. If we look at the situation negatively, seeing only the problems and apparent limitations, we’ll take the road that leads us down. But if we’ll look for possibilities and set our sights high, we’ll take the high road that leads to greater happiness and fulfillment. As Jesus said, our faith—what we expect God to do for us—is the determining factor: “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29, KJV).
One bedrock promise that makes a wonderful point of reference is found in Romans 8:28: “All things work together for good to those who love God.” If you love God and know how much He loves you, then you can be sure that He has your best interests at heart and wants to use even the problems that come with midlife to help you make positive changes. You will then be able to see midlife through the eyes of faith, looking not at the problems, but at the new possibilities you know He will open to you.
Strength from weakness
This time of slowing down, this time of greater weakness, is for your benefit. It is to bring you to full maturity, when you can get more out of life than ever before.
It is often through weakness, sicknesses, and other personal difficulties that we learn to draw closer to Jesus and become more dependent on Him. And as He told the apostle Paul, He can sometimes use us even more in our times of weakness than in our times of strength: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Also, because of your weakness and more contemplative nature, you appreciate life more and you appreciate the Lord and His goodness more. You value things that you were once too busy for or took for granted. So even though you may feel when you reach this stage of life that you are losing something, you are actually gaining much more than you are losing.
This time in your life can be one of the best periods, one of the happiest and most fruitful and satisfying. It can be a time of genuine fulfillment, even more than in your days of youth, for you have now come to the age where you have experienced many of the things of youth—the adventures, the challenges, the romance, the ups and downs, the joys and the tears of growing up and maturing. Now you seek deep, true satisfaction—the kind that comes from finding and fulfilling God’s plan for your life.
Jesus is waiting to help
It is not at all uncommon at this time of life to be hit with inexplicable emotions, or even depression. When your emotions are being tossed to and fro, you may feel like Jesus’ disciples who were crossing the Sea of Galilee when a storm arose and threatened to sink their small boat. “Master, help us,” they cried, “or we will perish!” Jesus commanded the wind and waves, “Peace, be still!” and the wind ceased and there was a great calm (Mark 4:37-41).
Jesus can just as easily and surely calm your emotions and bring peace to your spirit. He is able to drive away the feelings of hopelessness and replace them with feelings of hope, encouragement, happiness, and faith. Hold on to His promises in His Word. Believe Him through the storm. Believe that He will never fail you, and that all things do work together for your good.
King David prayed, “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2). When you feel overwhelmed, when you feel depression closing in, climb up on the Rock—Jesus. He will never allow you to be overwhelmed. He is the answer to depression!
It is very important that you not attempt to live with those negative feelings and emotions, or adjust to them, or make decisions based on them. So when you feel depressed or muddled, tell Jesus. Ask Him to take these feelings away. Draw on His strength, grace, understanding, and wisdom. Claim all the promises He has given in His Word, knowing that they are for you and times such as these, and He will bring you through victoriously.
He appreciates you turning to Him. In fact, He looks forward to those times with you more than you know. So when you feel overwhelmed or down or can’t sleep, have a talk with Jesus. He’s never too busy and He never sleeps. Tell Him your deepest thoughts and get to know Him in a deeper way than you ever have before. He has new horizons to show you. He’s just waiting for you to come to Him.
The best is yet to come
If these times of turbulence drive you to Jesus, and as a result help you find a peace and happiness such as you have never known before, then aren’t they worth it?
Your life is not over when you turn 40 or 50. This is not the end; this is the beginning of a new stage, of a new era in your lives. Jesus wants to use the lessons and maturity and wisdom you can gain during midlife as steppingstones to take you onward and upward toward the marvelous future He has for you. Choose the high road!
One bedrock Bible promise that makes a wonderful point of reference during midlife is found in Romans 8:28: "All things work together for good to those who love God." If you love God and know how much He loves you, then you can be sure that He has your best interests at heart and wants to use even the challenges that come with midlife to help you make positive changes. You will then be able to see midlife through the eyes of faith, looking not at the difficulties, but at the new possibilities you know He will open to you.—Maria Fontaine