I’ve gotten to the point where most days I’m okay with waiting to get married. I understand the importance of this season in my life but I still can’t help but excitedly anticipate the coming day when I hope to be married. But what really scares me is the thought of: what if it’s God’s will for me to be single forever? What if God decides I would glorify Him more in my singleness than in marriage? What if I will never have that dreamed of wedding, never have that hand to hold, never have a man to love?
Not being married for years and years seems hard enough. But…never? Could I do it?
1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”
Okay, God, if it ends up being part of my destiny, then you must have decided I was strong enough.
We’ve all heard the story of David and Goliath. We all know this Philistine was a giant. But I looked up how tall Goliath really was: 9 ½ feet. Wow. On top of his height and his strength, he had armor and a sword, a spear and a javelin. This was a man to be feared. In 1 Samuel 17:8-11 Goliath speaks to the Israelites: “He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid…” After this terrifying speech, David comes into the picture. He hears the words that Goliath says. He hears Goliath defy the Lord’s armies. But for some reason, these same words impact David differently than they did the rest of the men. Instead of hiding, he takes action as seen in verses 32-49: “And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine. And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth,that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.” When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.”
I find that often the Bible stories I’ve heard since I was a kid don’t usually mean as much to me unless I actually sit down and think about what each verse means to me. I can recite the details, quote all the verses, but they don’t sink in and take root until I study them carefully. Looking at these verses, you may wonder how this story has anything to do with not ever getting married. Think about it. David had no sword, no armor, no height, no strength to help him. He only had God. He didn’t rely on anyone or anything but God for the courage and the strength for this victory. In the same way, you can face any challenge, no matter how large, when you have God on your side. It may not feel like it. It may feel like an empty hand or an unadorned ring finger is too much. But with God at your side, there is no such thing as a defeat.
I think about all the letters I’ve written to a man who I’m not even sure exists. All the prayers I’ve prayed for someone who may not have ever been born. All the hopes I have that include a cozy house, some kiddos, and a future with the man I love—and I wonder…could I give all those up? Could I live the rest of my life without someone by my side?
Really, does it make sense for me to choose to be miserable if God doesn’t give me what I want? I would be like a child in the candy aisle whose mother just said no to a treat. The child throwing the temper tantrum feels like they have ever right to do so. It makes sense to them. They really, really wanted candy. They thought they could get their mother on their side so they had already decided what they’d get or what flavor they’d start with. But mom said “no.” Whining and kicking and screaming doesn’t help anything. It doesn’t change the situation for the child. Perhaps mother knows about something even better waiting at home, a dessert or surprise treat she’d made just that afternoon. Or maybe mom knew that her child had already had enough sugar for the day. Mother had her reasons. Mom knows what’s best for her kid. You already know where I’m going with this one, don’t you? If God decides that marriage is not part of His will for your life, He has a reason. We may not ever see or know or understand the reason. But that doesn’t mean God doesn’t have a purpose for your singleness.
If that time comes for me, it will be a rough road. A hard choice. I can choose to be bitter, living as if the purpose for my life was to get married. But that’s not true. I was created solely to glorify God. Instead of choosing the negative approach, I can choose to be filled with the joy that only God brings even though He didn’t give me the man I dreamed of, the marriage I prayed for, the love I desired. God promised one thing: eternal life. He didn’t ever promise me a diamond ring or a houseful of kiddos or a handsome guy. I don’t think it’s wrong to tell Him your heart (He already knows how you feel so it’s not like it will be a surprise to Him). I don’t think it’s wrong to pray that He will bring someone into your life. But I do think it’s wrong to expect Him to do so. I compare this to Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Lord, not as I will but as you will.” “God, this is what I want. Since I was 12 years old, I’ve longed for the kind of love that never stops loving. But this is what I want. Do as you want.” That’s a scary prayer to pray. Relinquishing my hopes and my desires and my dreams. Giving up the only thing I’ve ever wanted.
I don’t know if this is God’s plan for me. Or for you. It’s just something that sneaks into my mind sometimes and scares me a little. I know I should not worry about this. Even if it is part of God’s plan for my life, there is nothing to fear. Especially because He will always be with me, He will never give me more than I can bear, and He will provide the strength and courage I need at the time.