An uncle once introduced me to a friend as his “niece who can’t get a man.” It makes for a good story and I was quite amused by it, but as singles-of-a-certain-age it’s easy to view our marital status as my uncle did: a failure. In recent years, God has proven to me that this idea is the opposite of the truth.
My life – just as it is now – is not a mistake. Scripture demonstrates over and over the individualized care God gives each of his children. Is the God who “chose [me] before the foundation of the world” and predestined me for salvation (Ephesians 1:4-5) likely to forget to give me something I need?
II Corinthians 2:9 tells me that I can’t even imagine the glorious gifts God has for me as His child, and Psalm 139 says that God had ALL my days planned out before I even lived the first one. No, God has not forgotten that I’m single. I didn’t slip His notice when He was passing out spouses. He chose singleness for me at this stage of life as a deliberate choice for my good and His own purposes.
If I live my life in discontent because I don’t like God’s plan, that is sin. Anything I choose over God and His Word is an idol, and the dream of marriage can be just that. I used to think – in essence if not literally – that once I got married I would do a better job of serving God.
The mental picture of a life with a spouse and houseful of kids was what I’d prepared for, not one of living alone and having to work hard at fellowship. And since I wasn’t married yet, I could get away with some private sins. Who would ever know, right? That attitude kept me in bondage to my idol for a longer time than I care to admit. My spiritual growth was stunted because I quit trusting God in favor of that idol.
A friend pulled me aside one day and asked how I was doing spiritually. I sat weeping behind my sunglasses and all the rebellion and resentment I’d let pile up burst out. I felt like such a failure…I had no joy and little to point to as something I was doing to serve God. Scripture was dry and my prayers seemed to bounce off the ceiling. My friend challenged me to stop waiting for God to change my circumstances and serve Him right where I was, and my initial reaction was (I’m embarrassed to admit) internal anger. But it wasn’t anger at my friend, it was anger at God. I didn’t like my circumstances. I certainly didn’t want to adapt to them.
Thankfully, in His infinite mercy, God changed my heart that day. He led me to set aside my vision of what life should be and instead trust Him with what it was. Now this change didn’t happen overnight! It took weeks and months of obedience – studying Scripture and trying to know God better through it, attending church, serving others in obedience to the Word – before I sensed real change in my emotions.
But one day I looked up and realized something crazy – I was happy. None of my circumstances were different. I wasn’t dating anyone, didn’t suddenly have a cadre of single friends, and was still by myself a good percentage of the time. But God’s promises were true! He gives joy to the obedient and peace to those who trust His will.
The sovereignty of God is a gift to the believer: He who controls all the circumstances of life can be trusted. I thought I understood that concept for decades before I really took hold and grasped it for myself. Friends, the truths of Scripture are not just there to sound good or be posted as memes on Facebook.
God’s Word is a rock – strong, steady, and safe.
But we have to choose to take Him at His Word and rest on those mighty promises. I would challenge each reader to spend some time in your Bible this week and note what you learn about God: His character, power, omniscience, love. Apply that to your life as practically as you can. If God loves you and has almighty power, then the system crashing at work is part of His plan.
Grasp that truth and find a way to minister to your coworkers during the mess. If God loves everyone and wants to see them come to salvation, then He loves that person who constantly puts argumentative comments on your Facebook posts. This means you also should have a heart for them. Rather than typing out a verbal missile in response, pray for that person and do something kind for them this week.
Does that sound over the top? Well, we have an over-the-top God who longs for His children to remember His promises and live them out, because He has myriads of blessings in store for them. You will never regret taking God at His Word. I know I haven’t.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. – Proverbs 16:9