Heb 10:32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings,
Heb 10:33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.
Heb 10:34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.
Heb 10:35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.
Heb 10:36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
Last Sunday I was speaking on being steadfast as Christians. Part of this is to remain faithful while under testings and afflictions. In the above passage these Christians exemplified steadfastness by willingly identifying with Christ and even when it brought persecution, they didn’t run or compromise but they remained faithful. In that case the government came in and took everything they had away but it didn’t change their course. In fact, the word that sticks out is in vs. 34 where they accepted the plundering of their property “joyfully”. And they were able to do this because they had a firm faith in the revealed truth that their Lord would more than make up for it, not in this life, but in the one to come.
Perhaps when we think of patience in suffering we tend to apply it to the big things like overt persecution or some big sickness or crisis and it is certainly important for us to be able to stand firm in such times. But I fear that often when we hear a message on steadfastness and patience we forget that it applies the moment we get home from church and we face the everyday “trials” of life. By that I mean the daily disappointments, the family squabbles, the nagging boss and just the routines of life.
There is another time of life in which we need to be prepared and have our theology straight and our relationship with the Lord close and that is what we term the “mid-life crisis". What goes through our mind when we reach a point in life when we realize that our life isn’t going to turn out the way we planned; or when we realize that our spouse isn’t going to live up to whatever ideals we had? Often people fall into some serious sinful patterns because they haven’t learned to live for the right reasons. At the heart of such mid-life crises is a heart that has made life all about what I want and not what God wants.
If I have my life planned out and things and people around me don’t live up to my expectations then how can I be happy and content and I certainly can’t joyfully accept the plundering of my life if God so wills. We will never be like those saints in Hebrews 11 if our life centers on our will and plans and happiness alone.
As I was preparing last week’s message I wondered if anyone ever had any kind of crisis in their life because they realized that they weren’t going to live up to their spouse’s ideals and needs. I certainly have never heard of a husband admitting that he woke up one morning in a panic because life was passing him by and he felt he was failing to meet his wife’s needs; usually just the opposite; she isn’t meeting my needs. No, it is always based on what we want and what we think we need, etc. I have to admit that I am prone to view the value and success of my life based on what I am experiencing more than what my wife is experiencing and have had to admit a “mini crisis” this week as I realize just how sinful my heart still is. It just shows why we find it difficult to hold up when things don’t go our way; because we only are concerned for our way and not what honors Christ and certainly not our neighbors and family’s good.
At the heart of all this is that we can never be content in life if our life is never more than ourselves. We reduce life to our little world and with nothing greater to live for how on earth can we endure? If my goal is to serve well in the kingdom then if I have much or little isn’t nearly as important as what I do with what God gives me. This is what 1 Timothy 6 is getting at; 1Ti 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 1Ti 6:7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 1Ti 6:8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1Ti 6:9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. One of the snares he is referring to is being unable to deal with our life because we have pursued things that we can never keep very long.
But it is also knowing that Christ has put you in the spot you are in so that you can show others that having Christ is enough and in so doing reap eternal reward. If we miss this; that we must be steadfast in the little things; then we will excuse our bad temper and ill-treatment of our loved ones. If we think trials are only the big things and don’t realize that most of our trials are the everyday pain, disappointments, dealing with the ungodly pride in our life when those around us don’t bow to our every whim, then we will be defeated before we even get started. We can please our Lord every day hundreds of times by placing our hope in him and being full of joy because our best days are ahead of us.
Not only would I like to see more mid-life crises about how we have or haven’t served others but it is always good to periodically take stock as to whether we are amounting to anything in the Kingdom of God. And we don’t have to assume that we must be doing big, public, far-reaching things to be pleasing the Lord. I love Matthew 25’s view of the judgment because the ones who were going to enjoy eternity with the Lord were those who just went about helping others when they could. They made life about loving as they had been loved. Mat 25:34 Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Mat 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, Mat 25:36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Mat 25:37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? Mat 25:38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? Mat 25:39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' Mat 25:40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'
We won’t be judged on whether every desire and success we planned for ourselves was fulfilled or not but whether we served well in the Kingdom of God. If we are going to have a mid-life crisis let’s at least have the right goals in life.