Singleness wasn’t your plan, was it, girlfriend?
Yeah, me neither.
Feel it? The throbbing, gnawing ache that chews its way up through your heart?
Put it there, girlfriend. Yeah, me, too…it comes and goes.
A bad stretch? Your cousin’s getting married, now? Your childhood friend posted more kid pics?
We have lots of tissues — knock yourself out.
Listen, maybe you don’t want to hear this right now, but God’s plan is always –
No, I’m not going to be your aunt. Not going to quote the plaque your church gave, you, either. Yeah, everyone says it to me, too—
God’s got a man for you somewhere out there.
So, how’s the “fishing” going?
Y’know, you’re not getting younger… Let me tell you about the wonders of marriage –
You know what the Bible says: “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord –”
No, I wasn’t going to say that.
I was saying, “God’s plan is always good.”
Have another tissue, and I’ll explain.
1 Corinthians 7
I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. (1 Cor. 7:7)
Paul is explaining that unmarried people have an advantage…in that they can focus only on what God wants. However, married people have a duty to their spouse – husbands to love their wives, wives to honor their husbands (as ordered by God – Eph. 5).
Yeah, I know what you’re saying. “I’ll take the chance – I’m just sick of being alone!”
But let me draw your attention to Paul’s words: “each has his own gift from God…”
I always though this gift was an attitude.
After all, some people seem content with singleness. They “never wanted to get married” anyway, or are divinely at peace with it.
That’s fine — Paul says he himself is content in singleness.
Consider what he says in Philippians:
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 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. (Phil. 4:11-13)
Which means…God gives me the strength to be content in any situation.
Marriage. Singleness. Poverty or abundance. Furloughed from my job, or working extra hours. In sickness or health.
“To live is Christ, to die is gain.”
I know — it’s not easy.
But He’s got you while you’re in this relationship limbo.
But I also said there’s more.
The Gift of Singleness
You didn’t ask for this. You didn’t choose this.
But you’re single.
And whether the pain clawing through your heart will admit it or not…God’s plans are always good.
I hear a scream piercing the heavens:
“God, I don’t want this plan! I want someone to cuddle and babies and financial security and a spiritual head (that’s not my dad)!”
Yeah. Yeah. Put it there – I need a hug, too.
But…see, when you spend enough time with God, you realize that He’s good.
I know — if you grew up in the church, that sounds like a truism. But…once you actually spend time with Him, you start to understand – more fully – that He is good.
And He gives good gifts to His children.
Now comes the hard part.
Singleness is also a gift.
Taking a Big-Picture View
If we take another look at 1 Cor. 7, Paul gets a little more specific about the pros and cons of marriage. (We can go ahead and listen to him because he’s inspired by the Holy Spirit, and he’s a wise and experienced brother in Christ – 1 Cor. 7:40.)
On the one hand, marriage is God’s enshrined place for sex. When we use it to forge the husband and wife into a single weapon of light and truth (spawning future soldiers of righteousness in the process) it is a beautiful thing.
But passion that is focused on itself devours the persons involved like fire.
Check out Paul’s words from the chapter before:
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!
Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”
But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Cor. 6:15-20)
Easy, girlfriend. Yeah, I don’t need to be convinced of the good of marriage, either.
The point is, singleness has some bennies, too.
No “significant other” to consult…no ankle-biters to spend your energy on…no extra expenses from these other people.
With only yourself, you can be a missionary wherever God wants you: whether in the store down the road, with your neighbors in the apartment next door, or even in a foreign country around the world.
Returning to chapter 7, Paul says that “in view of the present distress” it’s best not to seek a wife (v. 26).
This reminds me of Jeremiah 16: 1-4:
The word of the LORD came to me:
“You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place. For thus says the LORD concerning the sons and daughters who are born in this place, and concerning the mothers who bore them and the fathers who fathered them in this land: They shall die of deadly diseases. They shall not be lamented, nor shall they be buried. They shall be as dung on the surface of the ground. They shall perish by the sword and by famine, and their dead bodies shall be food for the birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth.
Here – tissue.
Also check out the words of Jesus:
Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak.
And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days!
Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. (Matt. 24:17-21)
Whether you think this is talking about the end of the Entire World, or just the end of the world-as-we-know-it, the point stands—
Dealing with a screaming baby in the middle of societal collapse is hard.
Throughout history, chaos has risen, and fallen, and risen again. Human evil lunges at the leash, growling…but God keeps tight hold of the reins. Sometimes He lets us run after our own desires, and suffer the agony that brings. And sometimes He yanks us back to His side.
In the middle of economic chaos, watching my fellow countrymen say the sky is purple and that corn just grows on trees…
Well, we’re either preparing for a hard yank on the leash…or God’s about to spool out another length of line and let us bite the skunk-badger like we want to.
Either way – I have no kids to worry about. I’m not trying to pay down a brand new house with my husband. Nor have I moved across the country with my husband, leaving me unable to support my parents or run to them for help as the world around us burns.
Because…there is no husband. All the worries that go with that – submission to a man, involving another human being in my decisions, worrying about him when he goes to work in the war zone, potential “hostages to fate” —
Nonexistent. I only have one Person to consult about my life: God.
(And, because I am blessed with parents who are wise in the Lord and share the same Spirit and serve the same Jesus, I can consult them when I get confused. We’re built for teamwork, after all.)
I’m not looking forward to apocalypse…but my life will be “easier” because of my simplified attachments.
Stephen’s wife went through a special kind of pain when he was stoned…pain that Random Church Virgin 3 didn’t experience.
I hear you…“Yeah, well, I’d take that pain! At least I’d have a husband to mourn!”
This is where I can no longer help you – only point you to the Lover of your soul—
God’s Plan Might Not Look Good – But It Is
Think about 1 Cor. 4:11-13 (as one example among many) — Paul and the other disciples of Jesus faced a lot:
Beatings, hunger, insufficient clothes, insults, shunning from their own families, tortures, slander, and executions.
But this was Jesus’ plan for them.
Sheesh – remember what God’s plan for His own Son was?!
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
Then Jesus told his disciples, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matt. 16:21, 24-25)
They wanted the Messiah to be this blazing warrior of justice, and bring them into utopia.
Well…that’s the next time. The first time, He had to suffer and be rejected and die to pay the punishment of our wickedness – then rise again.
God’s plan, from the foundation of the world, to ransom us from ourselves and purify us in His own blood…
Let me have one of those tissues.
See what I mean, though? God’s plan is always good.
I know it doesn’t feel like it. When you’re hugging your pillow in the middle of the night, it doesn’t feel good. When the couple at church are having another baby…you don’t feel it.
When your birthday looms large as life before you, and Old Maid is a derogatory term, not a card game…well, it sure don’t feel good, does it?
Slap yourself. You know better, girlfriend. Yeah, you know God is good – the trick is telling your emotions to chill.
Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.
You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God. (1 Cor. 7:17, 23-24)
With God. Remain with God.
He’s got a plan for you – that’s the truth. What your church-aunts won’t tell you, though, is that the plan might be a lifetime of single purity.
Maybe they don’t know it.
Well…whatever. God will let you know, when you need to know.
In the meantime, He’s telling you:
“Look at Me. Don’t look down, keep looking at Me. Hold My hand, and look at Me.”
How do I know? ‘Cause He’s telling me the same thing!
Where is He calling you to serve?
I don’t care if it’s a nursing home, a day-care center, a homeless shelter, or just your crotchety old uncle…God has a mission field for you.
And for whatever reason, He wants you to be single while you minister there.
After all…just think of the testimony you have in being a patient, self-controlled single.
Your coworker says, “Well, you can’t not have sex.”
You can get a crazy grin, and say, “The virgin begs to differ!”
Your friends at church (and this hurts more) act like you can’t serve God without a spouse.
Well, that’s your chance to show them a faithful single serving God with all your might!
All of media (even “Christian” novels and movies!) act like romance is the be-all and end-all of life.
Ha! Your very existence within contented singleness is a declaration: No, God is the be-all and end-all of everything! (See Col. 1:15-17, Rev. 1:8, Heb. 1:2-4, and Rev. 21:6-7)
Maybe God’s got a husband for you in the wings.
Maybe we’re just waiting for the next stage of our lives *crosses fingers “Please, please, please”* but in the meantime…
Last hug. Blow your nose. Last chocolate piece.
Okay. Let’s get out there. There are people waiting to hear about my amazing Jesus. (They can still hear us from a “social distance”!)
God knows what He’s doing, and He’s got you right where He wants you. And He will be enough for you, even if the plan involves singleness.
…So, support group same time next week?
This post is approved by my spiritual head.
Featured image credit: Pixabay
Kimia Wood was raised by an aspiring author, so spinning words and weaving plots is in her blood.
She currently lives somewhere in the American Midwest with her family – including the brother people mistake for her boyfriend (#thestruggleisreal). She’s bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.
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