A Boundless reader recently wrote the following in an email:
I have been waiting for the past four years for a godly, stable, level-headed young man to take an interest in me for that purpose — for marriage and to no avail! So, I have decided today not to waste my time hoping and waiting on a godly young man to come and ask my hand in marriage. It is too taxing on my mind and heart, and it leaves less room for me to pursue God with all my heart and follow my dreams. Don’t get me wrong: If the opportunity did come up, I would be honored and jump with both feet into the opportunity, but I am not going to waste my time, thoughts, heart and hopes on something or someone who has no intention of such a thing!
When I first read this, I resonated with the writer’s frustration. I think it’s a fairly normal response at times for anyone who is single longer than anticipated. It can be hard … really hard … to still hope and dream of marriage and a family when the last four years don’t offer much hope for the next four. But as I read this email a few thoughts came to mind that have helped me wrestle with maintaining hope for things to come while not putting off living my life in the absence of those things.
1. God has called me to be single today. Tomorrow is a new day. It can be daunting to look to the future and only see years and years of where you are today. Thinking about being single in 10 years is certainly a depressing thought, but that’s borrowing today’s provision to try to solve tomorrow’s worries. The portion that God has assigned me today is singleness, but that’s only for today. Tomorrow is a new day, full of new mercies. God might bring someone into my life tomorrow, or next month, or next year. Remembering that God gives us enough for what we need each day can help us face whatever uncertainty the future holds.
2. I obey and trust God because I love Him, not because I want Him to give me a husband. Of course God’s plan for most of us does include marriage, but our hope doesn’t rest in God only for what He gives us. We base our trust on God in the belief that He is good and that we can trust Him to do what’s best for us, whether married or single, whether in seasons of plenty or in want. If my hope and my ability to wait on God for anything in my life is directly tied to my circumstances, then I’m not really trusting in the true character of God.
3. Hope is not a waste of time. It’s an essential part of the Christian life. The writer of the email says that she’s giving up because hoping is a waste of time. I think of the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah in Luke 1. They were righteous in God’s eyes, yet still remained childless at an age well past their prime. I can imagine that there were years when Elizabeth felt like giving up hope, yet who knew what God had in store! She would give birth to John, who prepared the way for Christ himself! As Beth Moore says about this story, when things that happen naturally for other people don’t happen naturally for you, you are in the position to witness a miracle. Think of how God was glorified through the miracle in Elizabeth’s life because of the waiting and hoping.
Romans 12:12 is one of my life verses because it speaks directly to this struggle: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.” Maybe we can learn to give up the expectation of marriage, but the hope that God can be trusted with our deepest longings is never a waste of time.