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How to look forward to the future — even at midlife

By: alane zlotnicki

Life can be so unfair. 

Just as you’re settling into a stage of life, enjoying yourself and feeling like you finally know what you’re doing, something changes. The kids move out, your spouse retires, your parents can’t live alone anymore, you begin having health issues.  And once again, you find yourself in a new season. 

God didn’t design life to stand still, and He doesn’t shake things up to make us miserable.

It’s easy to get angry, to mourn the loss of the familiar, resent the change, and resist embracing it. But God didn’t design life to stand still, and He doesn’t shake things up to make us miserable. 

Each stage of life has purpose and beauty if we are willing to give it a chance. Instead of trying to cling to the past, we’ll find blessing when we look for the opportunities that come with each stage of life.

Three Blessings That Come With Life Changes

1. Spiritual maturity

Every experience is meant to help us mature, to become more capable, wiser, and stronger than we were before. God wants us to grow in our understanding of who He is, and such growth can often only occur by experiencing something difficult (Psalm 9:9-10). 

Some of the life changes that we experience aren’t a whole lot of fun. Moving into the caretaker role as parents age challenges our patience and stretches our resources. It’s sad to see once vibrant parents ill or unable to care for themselves. But if we are open to it, we will see God provide. And we can grow in patience, kindness, and compassion as we learn to understand His heart (Hebrews 6:1).

2.  Empathy for others

As I enter middle age, I’m beginning to understand older people. I’m learning that the mind doesn’t necessarily age while the body does, and adjusting to physical changes can be baffling and depressing. I look at elderly people with a new understanding and empathy. 

As we progress through stages of life, we start to understand the frustrations and foibles of people who’ve gone before us, helping us to be more patient and compassionate (Colossians 3:1-2). We can also provide wisdom and encouragement to those experiencing things we’ve already done. This is what the apostle Paul envisioned when he encouraged older women to “train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure...” (Titus 2:4-5).

3.  Learning opportunities

Some life stages are more fun than others, but each one has lessons to learn and skills to master. It can be daunting to face a new set of circumstances, but God doesn’t leave us alone to muddle our way through. He is with us to guide us and help us to grow and become more like Jesus (Matthew 28:20). 

Our relationship with God deepens as we learn to trust Him with the changes we’re dealing with, knowing that He has a purpose for every stage of life and every experience (1 Corinthians 2: 9-10).

The temptation to compare our lives to our younger selves can be overwhelming. But when we trust God to give us His best, we can look forward in confidence rather than backward in longing.

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