I think I am having a midlife crisis.

Lately, I have felt restless at work, restless at home, restless in relationships, restless in ministry. 

At each turn, the same questions keep popping into my head: am I doing enough? am I doing too much? Does what I do matter?

And then there’s the little matter of my 40th birthday just around the corner. In less than two weeks, I will be entering a new decade, as well as moving one step closer to the grave.

For all I know, 40 is probably not the middle of my life. If you had asked me three years ago, I would have sworn that I had experienced “midlife” when I was 19. In the fight with cancer, I never thought I’d make it past age 38. And now, with the threat of cancer shoved a little more in the background, I don’t know that I won’t live well into my 90s. Modern medicine is making it more and more possible. Even for cancer survivors.

But despite the number of my days, right now, in these last days of my 39th year, I’m asking myself the big questions. I don’t think I’ll buy a sports car or join the Peace Corps. But I can’t help but wonder, is this the life God has for me?

Recently, the BBC radio program “World Have Your Say” posed this question to listeners around the world: do you expect too much from life? and what’s behind the increasing numbers of people having midlife crises? Callers from Kabul and Louisville and Georgetown, Guyana, all called in to talk about finding themselves in the middle of their lives. They referred to taking risks, making choices to reflect new values, and gaining perspective on their aging selves.

One man commented, however, that whoever coined the term “mid-life crisis” must certainly have been part of the developed world because people living in extreme poverty or war-torn conditions experience crisis every day. In other words, a “mid-life crisis” is a luxury.

The international conversation got me thinking about my own sense of restlessness, recently. As I thought about the places God has taken me and the experiences God has given me, even the trials He has walked through with me, I wonder: should Christians have mid-life crises?

Of course the Bible doesn’t refer specifically to that term. The most likely explanation is that life was harder than, like the third-world conditions of today, and men and women had few choices except to do what they could to survive. A mid-life crisis was a luxury they couldn’t afford.

But God does have plenty to say about his people and transitions. In fact, if you approach the book of Philippians from within a mid-life crisis, you might say the Apostle Paul saw this coming.

So, whether I am having a mid-life crisis, or just in need of leaning in a little harder on Jesus, here’s the truth that is getting me through these days: 
  • He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
  • Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ
  • Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling
  • But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
  • Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me
  • Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
  • Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
  • I can do everything through Him who gives me strength