But, what about those who have surrendered the desire... over and over... and it remains, while their single status remains along with it? This can leave people feeling deprived, discontent, and forsaken.
Questions plague such hearts:
If surrender equals blessing, then where is mine?
Am I not surrendering "correctly"?
What's wrong with me that I still ache for this?
If I could just get my life together, would God see fit to bring me a spouse?
The subtle, albeit unintentional, lie here is that marriage is given by some merit or worthiness of our own, and is withheld by some lack of our own. Neither is true. Marriage is a gift, freely given by the gift-Giver.
As Elisabeth Elliot wrote, marriage is a gift, not a right. Singleness is also a gift.
The woman who is 40, single, and longing to be married, is not in some way "less worthy" of a husband than the 18-year-old young woman who marries her high-school sweetheart.
The one who is given a spouse shortly after surrendering the dream and desire for marriage is not more deserving or "together" than the one who must surrender again and again, through years of uninvited waiting.
There is not a magic formula.
Who are we to question God's ways and thoughts?
Isaiah 55:8 says, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD."
Something else I've personally heard over and over that goes right along with this is when well-intentioned people wholeheartedly assure me that there is someone out there for me, I just have to wait for God's perfect timing to bring us together.
First of all, there are many people God calls to a lifetime of singleness. Just because we desire marriage doesn't mean we are guaranteed that gift. Look at Corrie ten Boom, an incredible woman of God (who desired to be married), yet she remained single all 91 years of her life on Earth.
We cannot tell someone we know for certain they will be married and that there is someone out there for them. How can we claim to know the future or God's plan for their life? When a spouse doesn't come along year after year, decade after decade, again they may be left feeling like they are lacking somehow. Did they somehow miss the mark? Did they miss the Lord's still, small voice, pointing them in the way they should have gone, the path where they would have found a spouse... but oh well, too late now?
How about we enter into the unique journey of single adults, not negating their pain or experience, but also not trying to solve the "problem" of their singlehood? (That's another issue in itself, the way being single is viewed almost as a problem needing mended or fixed, rather than a gift to be embraced). How about we encourage the single young Christians in our lives? How about we invite them over to have dinner with our family? How about we send Scripture and quotes to them and let them know we are praying for them? We don't have to have all the answers, or pretend to, in order to minister to their hearts. How about we say, "I don't know what God's plan for your life and future are, but I know it'll be beautiful. That doesn't mean it won't be painful too. But He knows what He's doing and can always be trusted..."? How about we stop suggesting someone needs to "get out there more," as if it is somehow because of them or their lack of wanting or trying that they still don't have a ring on their finger? We don't know if we could be encouraging someone to manipulate their circumstances when God has clearly asked them to wait upon Him.
Single Christian: You didn't somehow mess up or miss God's plan for you. These words from Lori Smith have encouraged me:
"One of the biggest struggles we face as Christian singles is wondering whether we've messed up God's plan for our lives. It seems we don't fit into the prescribed pattern for the Christian life, so perhaps we took a wrong turn somewhere - went to the wrong school, took the wrong job, turned someone down for a date when we should have said yes.
The Bible is completely absent of an admonitions to worry about missing God's will. We are instructed to follow Him, but we're never asked to fret about it.
To the contrary, we're presented with a picture of a God who's quite able to move us from place to place if we're not where we ought to be, whether by natural means (as He did calling Mary and Joseph back to Bethlehem for the royal census) or by supernatural means (as He did with Philip when He supernaturally transported him after his meeting with the Ethiopian eunuch).
If you're following God and obeying Him, you have no need to worry about whether you've missed His will for your life." -Lori Smith
Marriage is not guaranteed, no... but I'm not trying to be a Debbie-downer about it. We shouldn't walk around sulking and depressed because we are still single, with no prospect in sight. On the contrary, we should be living our lives fully and contentedly, busy about our Father's business. We don't know how long we have on this Earth, so we better serve the Lord while we have breath.
Still longing for marriage doesn't mean we haven't surrendered or aren't content.
Life as a single Christian can still be just as purposeful, sanctifying, and joyful as life as a married Christian.