Trusting God with Relationships, Part 6

Trusting God with Relationships, Part 6

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I cannot conclude this series without considering the formidable task of trusting God with relationships in the absence of possibilities. When there's a promising online match, a friendship that appears to be blossoming into more or an interesting fellow you met at that last wedding you attended, trust is a bit easier. There's something tangible to rest your hope in (even if it never goes anywhere).

But what of the dry spells? I discussed this in an article I wrote last year:

I am single.

I'm not ashamed to say it. Most of the time I'm OK with it. By "OK" I mean I don't break down in tears after attending my fifth wedding in one summer. I don't mourn with a tub of mint chocolate chip and "Sleepless in Seattle" every time I have a quiet Saturday night ... or four. And I barely cringe when my married friends get a twinkle in their eye and utter those dreaded words: "Soooo (they drag this word out endlessly), is there a guy in your life?"

I smile and explain (with maybe a bit of overcompensating enthusiasm) that there's not currently a special someone (nor has there been for three years), but I'm confident, in God's perfect timing, the right one will come along.

I know from experience, this kind of waiting gets old. Really old. Relationship advice is all well and good, but how do you apply it to the reality of no viable options? I cannot tell you that God will deliver you a spouse. I can tell you He cares about you deeply, is invested in this idea of marriage and has the power to provide a godly mate. Still, I also know you can't negotiate with God to secure that person.

For the everyday pain singles face while they're waiting for a spouse, I am reminded of two principles for living. First, regardless of whether God blesses me in this way, I am called to trust Him. In a very painful and confusing situation, Job said: "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him" (Job 13:15). 

Second, God is all powerful and my lack of a spouse has nothing to do with His ability to provide. Not only that, but He wants good for me. Consider 1 Corinthians 2:9: "However, as it is written: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.' "

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when enduring a dry spell is to avoid giving in to bitterness. Not only will it render you spiritually useless, but others will cease to be drawn to you. Along with pursuing the straight path, rejoicing in God's romantic heart, actively building community and seeking to respect and build up the men I know, I must choose to live in the life-giving joy of Christ. The truth is, the Lord is worthy of my trust even when I don't see how He's working. And because of that, in the dry spell, I still have hope.

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  • Comment by  JohnD:

    Did anyone (not that you were desperate or anything) ever consider just marrying a random person (obviously a fellow Christian, 2 Cor. 6:14), but without worrying about whether that person is your soul mate or the best possible mate you could find?

    If you really wanted to be married right away, you could, you know. Just jump right in and trust God to work out the details.

    Probably, that's where the expression "marry in haste, repent at leisure" came from.

    Also, Google "Britney Spears" and "annulment."

    Not that I am recommending the idea. Just wondering.

  • Comment by  Marie:

    Suzanne-

    Thanks so much for this series. I enjoyed it immensely and God has used you to encourage my heart. Well done!

  • Comment by  ChrisafollowerofJesusChrist:

    Heh, dry spell?!  Some friends have gone 28.75 out of their 29 years of life sans girlfriend.  Another male friend is a grad student, nearing the age of 30, without having dated someone for 29.5 years.

    There are several things that are helpful, one is the constant reminder, and looking over one's life, one can see that trusting in God's perfect provision is always the best.  We are tempted to shortcut and demand our way, when our perfect Creator and Lord wants to give us even better than we want.

    When we are tempted by the green-eyed monster of jealousy and envy, as one pastor put it, "You know you are really over that sin when you can truly rejoice with other people and not feel one ounce of self-pity or desire for what they have."  It is to love others so much that you rejoice with those who rejoice, and celebrate the blessings God has wraught in their lives, as we are one body.  That would be a great place to be for all of us.

    There are other things that one is to do.  The gift of singleness (which may only be for a time) is given for the edification of the church, and while many use that time to throw a pity party or to idolize dating and make it a sole focus, it is a time of service to God.  One wise older man once told me that the Christian life is one of balancing being fed and feeding others, and that even as single Christians, there are many opportunities to feed others.  We must fight our sinful tendencies to be SELF-centered and fight to be GOD-centered!

  • Comment by  SethM:

    Probably the thing I want to see most when I die is I want to look back and see how God acted, I can only envision it like a spiderweb of billions of things that take place from all over the world that cause the things that we only see from our limited field of view, I want to see the things that took place to make all of this happen I can't help but feel like it will just fill me with awe. The billions of ways that our prayers have an impact on us and others and the ways that God was working for us when we didn't even realize just how blessed we really were.

    It's most difficult to believe when you can't see but blessed are those who don't see yet still believe...(Yes I realize that was in a different sort of context)

  • Comment by  REallyLonely23YearOld:

    Good article.  The older I get, the more I realize there are no easy answers to tough questions.  My heart ACHES for a husband daily, but I've learned not to question God's wisdom or goodness.  Though I WILL keep asking Him for one.  

    There seem to be lots of singles on this website.  If we only had each other's pictures, and a means of contact, I bet It would facilitate many marriages.

  • Comment by  Donna:

    I have never had a boyfriend. A christian for two decades. For persons from pentecostal backgrounds it is not unusual.

    Alot of the current books on dating I don't agree with.

  • Comment by  Nikki:

    If we only had each other's pictures, and a means of contact, I bet It would facilitate many marriages.

    There are plenty of already-running online dating services; have you tried one of those?

  • Comment by  suzanne:

    John D. Yes, that is certainly an option. Personally, I do not believe it would be a wise one. If I believed marriage itself was God's primary purpose for my life, what you propose would make sense. However, I believe God's primary purpose for me is to a)know Him; b)glorify Him. Marrying any old Christian Joe has the potential to hinder these purposes, not enhance them. Just like a great friend inspires you and causes you to grow, a marriage partner with whom you share similar thoughts on life, ambitions and senses of humor will do more good than someone less suited. You can pull together from the beginning.

  • Comment by  AdamSloope:

    I think other biblical truths we should rely on in addition to Suzanne's wonderful one's are:

    Matt 6:33-33-But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

    Psalm 20:4-May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.

    If we seek His kingdom first all things will come including a dating relationship that leads into marriage.  Maybe we feel like we are sitting down here asking, "How long God, until you give me what I want?" and He may be asking, "How long will you continue to see it's not good right now for you?"

    God puts desires in our hearts.  If we are seeking His kingdom He will place desires that He has for us within our hearts, so our desires will be unified with His.  Marriage is something I believe God places on your heart and He will fulfill that desire in His timing.  

    I agree, Suzanne, this has been a great series, especially for someone going through the fringe of dating right now, skeptical of it all.

  • Comment by  Childlesssinglewoman:

    I am not sure I can agree with this post, or the gist of many of the comments. In essence, they all seems to be saying: Trust in God, wait on the Lord, and in His perfect timing he will bring you your spouse, unless of course you have the gift of singleness, which may last for a season or a lifetime - there is no way of knowing whether God's plans for you include a spouse or not until you get to heaven.

    I wonder if we could apply the same logic to employment/unemployment as we do for marriage/singleness?

    In other words, trust in God for a job, wait on the Lord, and in His perfect timing he will bring a job to you, unless of course you have the gift of unemployment, which may last for a season or a lifetime - there is no way of knowing really whether God's plans for you include a job or not until you get to heaven.

    If we can, well then there would be an awful lot of unemployed Christians.

    If we can't, then why do we apply it to singleness?

  • Comment by  Melanie:

    Thanks Suzanne...this series has so many good reminders for me JUST at the perfect time! Most significant, for me, is seeing another Godly girl seeking the Lord's face, but who is also willing to be vulnerable in order to share what He is teaching her. It encourages my heart to see your transparency!

    My prayer is that during this waiting time, we girls (and guys too) will experience the true joy the Lord gives for each day, trusting that "He goeth before."

  • Comment by  singlecertain:

    wonderful article. it really hits the prolonged singleness nail on the head. there is no easy answer, no quick fix. thanks for this, suzanne, i will def. be linking to it from my blog.

  • Comment by  suzanne:

    Childless single woman, I don't know that unemployment and singleness is a fair comparison. I'm currently going through Focus' Truth Project, and industry and marriage are set up as different spheres, each carrying different biblical principles. I understand what you're saying about the idea of taking initiative, but there are very different considerations. Employment can be changed at any time; marriage cannot. I'm sure most of us would agree that getting a job is not as complex as selecting a lifelong marriage partner. Out of need, a person may get a job that they find generally unfulfilling, with the plan of upgrading later. Obviously, it would be wrong to apply this same mindset to marriage. I just can't make the jump from job seeking to mate seeking.  

  • Comment by  Childlesssinglewoman:

    Suzanne - Thank you for responding to my post. Of course I agree with this: "a person may get a job that they find generally unfulfilling, with the plan of upgrading later. Obviously, it would be wrong to apply this same mindset to marriage."

    I don't think I said anything to imply "upgrading" a marriage is an option.

    But whose "plan" are you referring to when you say a person may have a plan to change jobs later? The individual's? Or God's? Or do you believe (as I do) that we need to be co-workers with God in all areas of our lives?

    Which leads me on to what I think may be the crucial point. You said: "industry and marriage are set up as different spheres, each carrying different biblical principles".

    Could you expand on that please? Which Biblical principles are you referring to that differ with regard to industry and marriage?

  • Comment by  kaj:

    The analogies I like to use when it comes to dispensing advice to singles (often in the form of worn-out, trite, uncomforting cliches akin to Proverbs 25:20) is to that of infertility.

    Both singleness and infertility can have in common that it involves a deep, unfulfilled (and often frustrating) longing that has yet to be met. And along with that longing, come those who do not understand one's personal pain in either situation.

    For example, I would find it cold and heartless (although the person means well) to say to a woman/couple struggling with infertility, "Oh, don't worry, you'll have a baby someday," "Wait on the Lord and he will make sure you get pregnant," or "Trust God during your season of infertility," let alone the "gift of infertility?"

    Would we also say to the infertile, "You just need to try harder?" or "Get right with God (or improve your relationship with Him) and then He will give you a child?

    A good passage to read in Scripture that correlates with this is 1 Samuel 1:1-20. Compare Elkanah's "comforting advice" with that of Eli's blessing to Hannah.

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