Arts & Culture

See through the Downside of Midlife with ’40/40 Vision’

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A couple weeks ago, our senior editor, Greg Ayers, asked me to write a review of a new book he received.

Great! I imagined a hot new book on leadership, entrepreneurship, maybe theology.

With the amazing people we have here at IFWE, I was pretty pleased Greg had chosen me for such a task.

Then he handed me the book: 40/40 Vision: Clarifying Your Mission in Midlife by Peter Greer and Greg Lafferty.

“Wait. You want me to review a book about midlife crisis?” I asked, somewhat deflated.

“Yep. I think you’re the most qualified.”

The Downside of Midlife

Midlife is not a happy thought for most of us. It can seem that life after 40 is nothing more than an accelerating slip-and-slide toward old age and death.

The person in the mirror looks older and tired, maybe a little too heavy and wrinkly. The newness of life has given way to the familiarity of life’s routines.

Midlife can be a season of worry about the future (will I have enough?), nostalgia (what happened to the glory days?), and comparison with others (am I successful enough?).

These thoughts can lead to disappointment, unrest, and a sense of meaninglessness.

These, in turn, often result in the classic poor decisions of midlife: extramarital affairs, spending beyond one’s means, obsession with body image, etc.

As Greer and Lafferty emphasize,

Long periods of disappointment can make escapist thoughts compelling. You’re filled with visions of a life that looks different from the one you’re living. Unchecked, disappointment can drive you crazy – and make you do crazy things.

With humor, real-life insight, and the “under the sun” wisdom of Ecclesiastes, the authors address several issues many of us face at midlife: the sense of meaninglessness, disappointment, insatiable appetite, mortality, lack of charity, unrest, age, disconnectedness, control, feeling dehumanized, and futility.

Without dwelling on each issue too long, they offer biblical wisdom and poignant stories to make sense of the complex challenges of midlife.

The Upside of Life in Christ

The wisdom of this book is that it does not try to console us with platitudes.

It does not promise that the next 40 years will be idyllic if we just try harder and keep our spirits up.

Instead, the authors point to the secret of contentment: active faith in the one eternal, inexhaustible source of joy, Jesus Christ.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

– Lamentations 3:22-23

His love and mercy have no end, even when we have lost sight of them because we have become caught up in midlife thinking.

The Solution

The solution to midlife thinking is to keep your eyes on the prize.

Keep equipping yourself by feeding on God’s Word.

Pray.

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you become ever more aware of his presence in your life.

God’s callings in your life (to work, family, church, and society) do not end at midlife.

In fact, we are called to steward the knowledge and experience we have gained to bring flourishing in the world. We are called to love, serve, and encourage others.

If you’re in your 40’s, this great book by Greer and Lafferty just might help you work through some of the issues we face in midlife.

If, like me, your 40’s are behind you, use this book to help and encourage those younger than you.

If you’re not quite 40, don’t kid yourself. Midlife’s a-comin’ and this book might just help you prepare for and navigate it.

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