When facing midlife fears and uncertainties, including a career change of my own, I try to think of Abraham and Sarah.
By midlife most of us have both wronged and been wronged, and I am no exception. Joseph reminds me that revenge is unnecessary.
If the Bible's account of King David is the first recorded midlife affair, then the story of King Hezekiah is the first recorded midlife crisis.
Midlife Heroes of the Bible
I've received inspiration from many midlife role models, living and dead, including some from a source I least expected, the Bible. Following are some of my favorites.
The Hebrew patriarch Abraham was 75 years old when his boss (God) told him to relocate. But that's not all. Abraham was not told the location of his new job, only that God would be his guide. Can you imagine the ensuing conversation with his wife, Sarah?
"Honey, we need to move."
"I'm not sure, but God told me he would show us once we get started."
"Abraham, have you been letting the grape juice sit too long again?"
When facing midlife fears and uncertainties, including a career change of my own, I try to think of Abraham and Sarah. The Bible says they came through their ordeal by faith. So I endeavor to do the same, to look not only at what is (joblessness for instance), but at what can be (a new career).
When most people think of Joseph, their thoughts go to the 17-year-old youth who was sold into slavery by his brothers. Yet when I think of Joseph, my thoughts go to the midlifer who, almost four decades later, forgave and blessed those same siblings. By midlife most of us have both wronged and been wronged, and I am no exception. Joseph reminds me that revenge is unnecessary.
While a rising executive in the Egyptian palace, Moses was forced into early retirement at age 40, a situation, by the way, caused not by a hostile takeover but by Moses' own unrestrained temper. Yet after years of working in an obscure job, at 80 Moses returned to a management position and led the greatest exodus the world has known. When I fail at things, my tendency is to give up. Moses reminds me that, for those who persist, life sometimes has its second chances.
King David had the dubious honor of having his midlife extramarital affair recorded for all of us to read. The account of David and Bathsheba is a story of unprotected leisure and unbridled passion. It reminds me that a few moments of pleasure is not worth a lifetime of familial discord, but, even then, forgiveness and restoration are possible. David's second half of life included a Solomon as well as an Absalom.
If the Bible's account of King David is the first recorded midlife affair, then the story of King Hezekiah is the first recorded midlife crisis. At 39 Hezekiah was struck with a life-threatening disease. And, as is often the case when one first faces his own mortality, the king plunged into a deep depression.
I have found understanding and solace in Isaiah 38, which records Hezekiah's thoughts at the time. Among other things, the king describes his life as a half-finished tapestry that has been ripped from the weaver's loom.
Similarly, God's words to Hezekiah have pulled me through my own times of despair. Perhaps today they will encourage you too:
"Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David, I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold I will heal you" (II Kings 20:5).
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