(This post originally debuted last summer, but I’ve picked up a great many followers since then, including not a few singles. I’d like them to hear this. Even if you’ve read this before, I hope it might make for a better-than-usual Monday.)
No preaching today, Christian single.
We’re taking a break from all the well-intentioned talk of God’s plan, trusting him, or anything along the lines of You need to do X before God marries you off. You’ve heard all that. Sometimes I wonder whether the church realizes just how holy your choices have already been.
If you’re single and still pursuing God, still in church, still serving and trusting and living to the fullest right now, I want to say – well done. God is pleased with you. He sees you. You deserve a party. Anyone who stays faithful through the denial of a heart’s desire is deserving of vigorous kudos. Because that’s holiness.
I’m sorry if your circle has failed to tell you this. They mean well. Even if they tell you to be content, find your satisfaction in Jesus, celebrate singleness as a Biblically valid lifestyle, and then turn around and reserve all the parties for newlyweds.
But any chump can get married. All it takes is someone who’s vaguely compatible, a justice of the peace, a slip of paper, and a convenient failure to really think about whether the union is a good idea.
On the other hand, someone who looks at a Savior who keeps saying no, yet still pronounces “I trust him” to the watching world? That’s a rare gem. One who has learned something about that Savior.
You’ve faced countless breakups and rejections with grace. You’ve gotten a master’s degree. You’ve been around the world on missions, only to disembark the plane and find yourself the only team member with nobody waiting to pick you out of the crowd and welcome you. You’ve fought tooth and nail for purity. You’ve tithed until it hurts. You’ve turned down romantic opportunities that would have left you unequally yoked. You’ve wondered why God created you with that ______________ that seems to be hurting your chances of finding someone. You’ve bought a house, a pet, and possessions, rather than waiting for a spouse to come along and build your life.
In all this, you’ve given no quarter to bitterness, but given your confusion and tears to God.
None of us have a perfect record. It doesn’t matter. You’re persevering. God cares about your disappointment and offers his comfort. I want to hug the stuffing out of you myself. If you’re okay with not knowing the next step, if you’ve found your love for God swelling and outgrowing the earthly longings alongside it, then you’ve reached your mountaintop. Getting married was never the mountaintop. Knowing God was.
And God has noticed. He has noticed. He comforts you. He parades you as he paraded Job – “This one gets it!”. Don’t let cries of “first world problems” belittle your years of patience. Singleness isn’t always easy. Going without a heart’s desire never is.
God is immensely pleased with you.
“That’s fine for him,” an honest corner of our heart responds. “But what about us?”
Peter seemed to wonder the same thing as he watched the rich young man fade into the distance, asked by Jesus to surrender the treasure of his heart:
Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Luke 18:28-20)
We singles certainly haven’t given up “all we have”, as Peter did. But Jesus casts a wide net. He graciously affirms sacrifice of many kinds. Here’s what we can be sure of: no matter what you give up for the Name, you won’t feel cheated in the end. Even though my anxious heart still sometimes wonders how this can be true, I must trust that it is. God knows how to leave his people feeling rewarded.
I am convinced this includes singleness. Some of us are asked to lay our desire down for a few years, some of us a decade or two, a few for our entire pilgrimage. But the promise of Luke 18 can be trusted. It comes from the Son of God, who knew better than anyone the spaciousness and compassion of his Father’s heart.
What’s more, if you also maintain faith in the Father’s generosity and his potential to answer your prayer even now? I don’t want to swell your head, but forget the parade, let’s elect you president right now. To have enough confidence in God’s goodness to keep putting your heart out there, to keep placing hope in his power while still letting go of exactly what that power will bring? That is remarkable faith. Not everyone gets there. In fact, sadly, very few Christians do. The wait can bring an edge of resignation – burying a desire, dismissing the whole realm of receiving things from God. It seems holy. It’s merely spiritualized pessimism – perhaps bitterness. Walling yourself off from possible disappointment.
Ever heard one of those “God wants access to every locked room in your life” sermons? Your desires are another room. He wants in. Not to lecture or destroy, but to indwell your entire heart.
Whatever happens, he is proud of you. He won’t forget your surrender.
If the words of some random blogger don’t do it for you, hear again the words of Christ:
“I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.” (Luke 18:29-30 NLT)