If, like me, you’re single and crying out not to be, you’ve probably heard at some point or other (perhaps many times) something like this: You should find your satisfaction in Christ, rather than hoping to have that ache inside filled by a future spouse.
It sounds so right. And that’s because it is, in one sense, absolutely true. Jesus should be our all-in-all. He should be enough.
But there’s another sense in which I think it’s wrong to give us singles the impression that Jesus can satisfy that stab we feel inside when we look at someone else’s wedding photos or hold someone else’s baby.
Let me explain.
Imagine that I’m very hungry. In fact, I’m so short on food that I’ve only been able to eat one rather small meal a day for the last few weeks. I can’t escape the gnawing feeling in my stomach. And I have no idea when my next proper meal will be.
Is Jesus enough?
If by that you mean that loving Jesus more than I love food will make my hunger miraculously disappear, then the answer is no. Jesus didn’t design my stomach to feel full at the thought of Him. He designed something other than himself to fill that craving: food. It’s food He provides, but it’s still food rather than Him.
But if by that you mean that, ultimately, having Jesus is all that really matters and that I should be joyful in Him even when my body cries out for food and trust Him that He will provide for my need for food as He (not as I) sees best, then the answer is yes and yes again.
I think it works the same way with our longing to be married. God has made us in such a way that most of us have a hunger for marriage — a good gift which, like food, is designed not only for our enjoyment but for the furtherance of His kingdom. And He’s designed this hunger for marriage to be filled through His provision of a spouse rather than directly through Him.
The gift isn’t always provided. Just as there are starving people who will never have enough food, there are lonely singles who will never have a spouse. But these tragedies aren’t signs that such desires were meant to be filled in other ways. They’re signs that we live in a shattered world. And in the midst of such wreckage, we must trust that God will use even the “not having” of such gifts for our good and for the good of His kingdom. But the hunger remains.
A hungry heart
So, yes, there is a sense in which Jesus is not enough to satisfy our desire for marriage. At a certain level, that ache inside me for a husband and children is an ache He designed a husband and children to fill, not Him. And what that means is this: The fact that I crave marriage and children isn’t in and of itself a sign that I’m not finding satisfaction in Jesus. It’s OK to feel heart hunger. We’re not inferior Christians because we do.
Our challenge as singles should not be trying to manufacture devotional feelings that somehow mask our longing for a spouse. Our challenge should be believing that if we die — starving or single — and have Jesus, we have all that ultimately matters. Our challenge should be to trust Him and enjoy Him in the midst of our aching. Our challenge should be to remember — as a friend pointed out to me — that whatever situation in life we’ve been placed in, we live our lives in Christ and for Christ, praying for His kingdom to come and knowing that even this grief that we carry can be a part of that bigger picture.
There should be solace in that.
But the grief, the hunger, is still there, and we don’t have to feel guilty that it is.
And I think that’s freeing.
Sarah Magee is a British gal who loves words well written and stories well told. She blogs at www.scribogirl.wordpress.com.
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