Avoiding a Midlife Crisis
Scripture always strikes me as true to life. It never glosses over unpleasant facts. The Bible helps each of us understand and deal with our problems because it frankly discusses the problems of those who have gone on before us.
King David, for example, started out well for the Lord. He zealously served God as a young man. Even when he had to run for his life month after month, he remained true to God's commandments.
But as David reached middle age, he encountered three perils that caught him off guard (2 Samuel 11). Each of us will also face these same perils at some point in our pilgrimage through this world. If we fail to respond properly to these perils, we will experience what psychologists call a "midlife crisis."
What are these perils? The first is the peril of growing weary. David experienced this weariness after years of fighting against the enemies of Israel. Instead of attacking the Ammonites with his army, as he should have, David decided to stay home one spring and relax in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 11:1).
Weariness hits when you've been out in the working world some ten, fifteen, or twenty years. Maybe you've been married for just as long. Life becomes routine, and weariness easily convinces us at this point to take it easy for a change.
Second, with weariness comes the peril of carelessness. No one wakes up Monday morning and says, "Hey, I think I'll wreck my marriage today." But how often we hear of Christian couples who separate after ten or twenty years of marriage. Why? Because they were careless.
Third, with carelessness comes the peril of confusion. David failed to follow the spiritual compass of God's Word and the guiding of the Holy Spirit. He inquired about a certain woman, and before the night was over he committed adultery (2 Samuel 11:3 4).
When you are young, you know just where you want to be when you reach forty. Then you get there and feel trapped by your responsibilities, your job, and your marriage. What do you do when Satan offers you a tantalizing change of pace? How should you respond to the perils of middle age?
Take a few moments and read 2 Timothy. It's a very short letter. In this epistle the apostle Paul explains how to avoid a midlife crisis. "Timothy," Paul says, "don't give up. Persist. Shun youthful lusts. Be steady. Continue in the things you have learned. Fulfill your ministry."
As you read 2 Timothy, write down all the ways to resist Satan's temptations to relax and become careless spiritually. Also observe the images Paul uses to describe this steadfastness - a single-minded soldier, a disciplined athlete, a hard-working farmer, a faithful workman, a persistent fighter, a never-say-quit runner.
When you face the perils of weariness, carelessness, and confusion - whether or not you are middle-aged - don't pray for an easier life. Pray instead to be a stronger man or woman of God.
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