I had to take a deep breath before typing this because I really don’t like admitting struggles: Sometimes singleness is really, really hard.
Maybe, sister, your life is really hard right now too. You’re lonely, you’re longing for a baby, someone close just died, you’re desperately praying for someone’s salvation, perhaps all your kids came down with a stomach flu at the same time and you’re just not quite sure how you’re going to survive the next few hours, much less a whole day.
These are the times that haunt us—these breathless, painful, deep, dark times where you can actually feel physical weight bringing you down. Sometimes they’re brief and you can see light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes you are pretty sure this is the cross God is asking you to bear for the rest of your time on earth.
First, have courage, dear heart! God tells us not to fear. But He doesn’t tell us to be strong. In fact, He says His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Paul wrote, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9). What we do with our weakness shows Who we’re made of.
But in our weakened state we may be prone to turning our eyes from the One who provides strength. When we search for it in ourselves we start to question and want the things God has not provided. As John Calvin said, our hearts are idol factories. Always wanting to fill God’s place with other things.
This is, of course, literally the oldest sin known to man. God gave Adam and Eve paradise, fulfilled their every need, and yet told them not to eat of one tree. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6)
It is worth making the distinction that it is not sinful to desire things God has called good. The Lord said it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18), and that children are a blessing from Him (Psalm 127:3), for example. It is godly to desire them. It is, however, sinful to be discontent when our holy desires are not met; when we’re coveting what others have. Let us learn from Paul, who wrote from a Roman prison “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:12-13)
When the Israelites begged Moses for things he looked at them in disbelief. He and Aaron reminded them over and over again what God had done for them—He protected them from plagues, brought them out of slavery, brought them across the Red Sea. And throughout the Old Testament this is a recurring theme—paragraphs listing what God had done for Israel, over and over, and yet they said it was not enough.
In 2 Samuel the prophet Nathan goes to rebuke David after he has slept with Bathsheba and had Uriah killed. “Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.”’” (2 Samuel 12:7-8, emphasis mine)
In similar fashion, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) God has created us. He sustains us. He provides the air in our lungs and those lungs to breathe it with. He has given us food for our bellies, sleep for our minds, water for our bodies, and shelter from the elements. He sent His Son to do what we are unable to do: live a perfect life and bear His wrath. He who knew no sin BECAME SIN FOR US that we might dwell with Him forever, washed clean by the blood of Jesus.
And yet, sister, we dare to complain.
But even in this, God shows His amazing love for us. He delights in His children. He rejoices over us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17), He collects all our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8), He restores our souls (Psalm 23:3).
Rejoice with me, sister, that even when it feels like our desires will crush us under their weight, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined he also called, and those whom He called he also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.” (Romans 8:26-30)
What breathtaking, deep, wondrous grace is this, O my soul! Drink deeply, sister, and be satisfied.