Summary: What are some of the tests we face in the middle years of life and how ought we navigate them to the glory of God?
Our growth (physically, intellectually, spiritually etc), up to the age of about 25 can be likened to drinking from a fire hydrant. We get twelve years of formal education, maybe some tertiary study or an apprenticeship, and then there’s all the life experiences we get outside that. When our kids come along we read everything about parenting and all of that is a very steep learning curve. But from there on it’s almost as if the growth-tap is turned off and our learning and development is reduced to a trickle, if not stopping completely!
But the thing is this world may expect you to stop growing, to settle down and atrophy, but God doesn’t expect that. God is in the renewal business. God is the Creator and he didn’t stop creating you when you were born or at your graduation. He’s still at it.
And one of the primary ways God grows us is through tests and challenges. So as we look at this middle season of life, what are some of the tests we face in the middle years and how ought we navigate them?
If we’re married then we can be sure that it will be tested.
Our culture seems to place a high value on the euphoria of young love but when it comes to marriage in the middle years the popular press doesn’t paint such a bright picture. I read an article this week about a couple who chose not to celebrate they 25th wedding anniversary with a party because they felt like it was rubbing it in the face of friends and family who hadn’t made it that far!
There are enormous challenges that face a couple in their middle years. So what do we do? Well the Lord loves you and he wants you to have a rock solid, satisfying and sometimes even a happy marriage. He wants to be honoured in your marriage and so he has given us a couple of pointers.
a) Get Real
The Bible never ducks around reality. Instead it encourages us to face up to the hard facts of life. Colossians 2 says …
… reality, however, is found in Christ (Colossians 2:17)
And one of life’s hard facts is that midlife marriages experience great stress because of the season of life we are in. Think about it, Midlife mums are either older mums with little kids (which is exhausting). Or they are raising teens (which apparently is even more exhausting), and in amongst that they have probably returned to work. And Midlife Dad’s are usually at the pinnacle of their career (which is stressful), while at the same time they’re paying for graduations, cars, Uni, or weddings (which is all expensively exhausting!). For some we can add to the mix the increased pressure that comes from health issues such as a mid-life crisis or menopause. And others have the stress of managing a prodigal son or daughter whose lives have just gone nuts. In all of that, it’s not uncommon for romance to die and a desire to escape to rear its head. The point is, if you’re facing that kind of scenario, you’re not alone. Most married couples face these same stresses. That’s the reality the question is what are you going to do about your situation?
b) Get a new perspective
The Bible encourages us to get a new perspective on the situation. We need to stop seeing our marriage from our worldly perspective and see it as God sees it. Psalm 128 says …
How happy are those who fear the LORD -- all who follow his ways! 2 You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How happy you will be! How rich your life! 3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine, flourishing within your home. And look at all those children! There they sit around your table as vigorous and healthy as young olive trees. 4 That is the LORD’s reward for those who fear him (Psalm 128:1-4).
The key in this Psalm is the “fear of God,” and that simply means that if we respect his advice and we honour him by following his commands then our homes/families will be fruitful places, flourishing, vigorous and healthy.
Let’s take stock of how we’re viewing our marriage. Are we seeing it from our own worldly perspective? Are we trying to go it alone in our marriage and family? Or are we committed to following the ways for the Lord in our homes? Only you and the Lord know the answer to that one. The Lord wants to bless you, but we must follow his ways.
c) Get help
We live in a world that tells you every day how odd you are to stay married long term and so we need to surround ourselves with people who are going to encourage us to live for Christ in our homes. The Bible says …