Single and Feeling Like God Doesn’t Care?

thinkingOne of the analytics tools WordPress gives us bloggers is labeled “Search Terms”. It shows us the search words that have brought up one of our posts to someone (though it doesn’t specify which post).

Most of the time, for (I think) privacy reasons, Google hides the actual search words the person used and just says “Unknown Search Terms”, but occasionally the actual words show. I’ve seen “losing friends” (which presumably led someone to this post), “being godly and sexy” (I’m guessing this), a surprising number containing the phrase “last minute” (which probably all led to this), and some hilarious non sequiturs that aren’t all appropriate to share.

On Monday, this one popped up: “single and feel like god doesn’t care”

My heart broke.

I will never know who it was, out of 7.5 billion people, that was led to my site by that search phrase. I don’t even have a way of knowing which post they viewed. I can only hit my knees and pray that God got their needs to them.

Because I know what that feeling is like.

Sometimes we must sweep aside the thick knot of church-foyer theology, rationalizations, and pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, and just shine a light upon what our hearts are really believing. And I know what that feeling is like.

No matter how many married people tell you that marriage won’t fix everything (it won’t) or sweep aside your feelings with a big hearty “You shouldn’t be lonely, you have JESUS!!!”*, loneliness is real. There are those who’d give anything to have someone to share a dinner with, someone to entrust with a few uncomfortable secrets, someone to help with the calendar or budget or even just touch them on the shoulder. It’s amazing how many people go without these small comforts. Only the lonely really understand. And that only makes them lonelier.

It’s another level of suck entirely to bear the clenching idea that God doesn’t care. That he’s too concerned with The Plan** to notice how our hearts react to it.

To feel cut off and dismissed by the greatest hope we have? Awful.

I have wonderful news.

It’s a lie.

It’s a lie.

God does care. Immensely.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Record my misery;
    list my tears on your scroll—
    are they not in your record? (Psalm 56:8)

God sets the lonely in families,
    he leads out the prisoners with singing;
    but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. (Psalm 68:6)

That’s only a sample of the verses describing God’s tenderness and thoughtfulness to those struggling with any hope deferred.

I love Psalm 56:8 especially. It evokes God’s fierce attentiveness, his thorough capture of our each and every tear.

Whatever your theology about his sovereignty and purposes, God allows for our pain. Even though he truly is enough for us, God grants in Psalm 68:6 that loneliness is real. Somehow, deeply, mysteriously, in a way that real theologians could better untangle, both truths coexist in this world.

Now, here’s the hard part.

Just because God cares, doesn’t mean he’ll bring you someone tomorrow.

I’ll certainly celebrate with you if he does. But there is no exegetically defensible promise in Scripture that binds him to do so.

That’s the seeming bizarre paradox, the head-turning contradiction, that God’s singles must live with. It’s the road we must walk.

And that is hard.

Some of us honestly aren’t interested in God’s care if it comes in any form except a spouse. That was me for a long time. The posture was narrow, and it pinched off my connection with God for a large chunk of my adult life. I let it get to me. Instead of joy, resentment, distance, and confusion marked my walk. (And the irony is, such reaction to pain does not make you a good marriage candidate.)

No more.

Over the years, Jesus got to me in a wonderful way. Calm and lightness of heart replaced the heaviness. I rediscovered hope and faith. “He made my feet like the feet of a deer; he caused me to stand on the heights” (Psalm 18:33). And I long to see other singles reach those heights.

I know. I can hear you sigh. It sounds like a consolation prize.

It’s not. I beg you to trust me on that.

And one of the gateways, the first steps towards that lightness, is embracing the truth that God cares.

That detached, vaguely irritated God that you imagine? That’s not the God of the Bible. Run, don’t walk, from any un-Biblical theology that says your tears are misplaced before God. They are recorded on his scroll.

 

 

If you know someone this post might bless, please feel free to share it on social media. Thanks so much!

 

I’m happy to say I’ve never once gotten this cliche from anyone at my church.

I am not denying God’s providence. I’m simply saying that it’s not always the right message to relieve someone’s hurt, and I believe Scripture bears that out.

14 thoughts on “Single and Feeling Like God Doesn’t Care?

  1. Married people also get lonely. Loneliness is the outcome of a self-based world view. Think of the millions who have joined the social network just to tell everyone their struggles. It feels good when they are pitied, but only momentarily. Soon they realize that everyone else is really only living for themselves & could care less about their pitiful situation. They take selfie after selfie and are the loneliest people with 1000 facebook friends. This is why the Church is to truly love one another, to actually make it your business to invest in the life of our brothers and sisters. Heaven will never be lonely because love is incarnated in the Christ Who reigns there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know if I’d agree that ALL loneliness comes from selfishness. Some does, certainly (and you make a great point about social media). But Tim Keller had a saying that’s really intrigued me:

      “Adam was not lonely because he was imperfect. Adam was lonely because he was perfect. Adam was lonely because he was like God, and therefore, since he was like God, he had to have someone to love, someone to work with, someone to talk to, someone to share with.

      “All of our other problems—our anger, our anxiety, our fear, our cowardice—arise out of sin and our imperfections. Loneliness is the one problem you have because you’re made in the image of God.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So true, it’s a battle really with flesh and spirit. I struggle so much with loneliness and I don’t even understand it. I try to think of many reasons why I shouldn’t be lonely, and yet it still settles. I know marriage or being in a relationship won’t be the fix, but I don’t undertand this intense desire. If I’m one of those called to be single forever in service to God, why won’t he numb this desire, because I’m tired of people asking me if I’m married, tired of people introducing me to people, tired of feeling emotions towards men that I know is not the right one. Lol, sometimes I just want to leave everything behind and just be a hermit away from society maybe then these torturous longings will subside. But I know thay this type of thinking is very wrong, as Jesus calls us to reach the lost, so for His sake, I’ll hang on.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Amen! God does care.

    Loneliness is an odd duck, it can be very painful and yet solitude on the other hand can be a beautiful thing,a much desired state of being. What’s different between the two is really noting more than our attitude. They both involve being alone, but loneliness tends to spring up from lack, from not feeling loved,while solitude is more about being alone to celebrate how loved you are. It’s always an issue that fascinates me.

    A lot of smart people have pointed out that the most painful thing in the world is to be surrounded by people and yet feel so lonely. That’s really true, too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My generation has a ton of people who have more solitude than they ever asked for. There’s a variety of reasons, some of them societal, some of them in our own heads. I don’t think marriage is the only fix for that (and I think making marriage the primary fix is unhealthy and hazardous), but it’s definitely playing a role in how our culture’s attitude towards singleness and marriage have shifted in the last twenty years or so.

      Like

      • Well, I don’t think it’s solitude this generation has, I think it’s loneliness. We’ve overstimulated with so many distractions, and so much separation from others.

        Solitude is actually the peace of being alone with oneself and God. It’s actually a pleasant thing.

        Liked by 2 people

    • I think it has more to do with having someone that really connects with you that is present with you, ofcourse only Jesus is the only one who can fill the deepest longings of the spirit and yet he gave us these desires to seek out people with likeminds. I’ve grown up always surrounded by people, but had to move a lot, it was difficult to keep friends for long term, my parents were heavy serving in the ministry, my little brother was sick as a child. There were days there was just enough money for food, so all I did as a kid was stay home, watch my brother. There comes a point of where you give yourself so much away that now there is an emptiness inside you, that you know God fills, but then idk you just long for someone to talk to, to care, this is where I’m stumped because I consciously know God’s love, and I do enjoy solitude, but there’s a desire for a partner or even a close friend, but seems so difficult to have. Maybe for some temperaments it is easier for them to cope, but for some being alone drives them insane. But of course God gives grace through every season and no matter what trials it is something that can be overcome. It is comforting to know though that this is not a phenomenon that affects only a few, but many people go through it, it is something common to humanity.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Most people when they have gf’s they think they are not single and they tell they are in relationship…does it mean…this is the margin for Biblical singleness and relationship thing..lately this has been matter of joke to me…

    Liked by 1 person

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