Thursday, October 19, 2017

Embracing What He Gives and What He Withholds

A close friend of mine recently wrote in an email in which we were discussing life as single Christian women in our upper 20s, "I will gladly take what He gives and what He withholds."

Shouldn't this be the posture of our hearts as Christians in general? And specifically referring to single Christians... are we walking in surrender, accepting with gladness what He gives and what He doesn't give? Or do we pout and kick and scream the whole way, begging for something different than what He in His sovereign wisdom has ordained?

We hear how the Lord is involved in the small details of other's lives and love stories, yet somehow we get this idea in our heads that our circumstances are unique, that they are somehow beyond His control. Like He isn't involved... is detached... is unconcerned with our relationship status.

Singleness Displays the Gospel

How can we seriously believe the lie that the God who created marriage and the two genders is unconcerned with our love lives? Marriage demonstrates to the world the beauty of the Gospel. As Christians, we know it is a reflection of the covenant between Christ and His church. We understand this and that's why we yearn for a spouse and know that it's an honorable thing to desire.

But do you want to know what else demonstrates to the world the beauty of Christ? Something we don't talk about as much, but is as much of a gift as marriage... Singleness.

We are not "less-thans" in the body of Christ as singles. We uniquely display the bride, the church, waiting on her groom, Christ! We may not currently have the blessing of demonstrating to the world the Gospel reflected in a marriage covenant, but we can show the world what it looks like to wait in hopeful expectation and aching for Christ's return. I know the yearning I feel for an Earthly husband, and God has used this to teach me how much more I should yearn for Him.

Daring to Desire

I know I personally can feel guilty that I still long for marriage when I am reminded by married people that I need to simply be content. We should be content in our singleness, yes, but contentment does not equal lack of desire.

Perhaps deep down we are afraid to desire because we are afraid of being disappointed with God, we are afraid that He isn't really good and that's why He is holding out on us. I didn't even realize I believed this lie until I read a post Marian Ellis shared on her blog about her journey of desire. She wrote:

Somehow, in my journey with Jesus, I bought into this religious notion that I would be considered more "spiritual, godly, or holy" if I pretended that I was content, and I didn't long for anything but Jesus....
I was pretending out of fear. Fear, that I would be disappointed if I allowed myself to hope. Fear, that God wouldn't come through for me. But beyond that, fear that Satan was right and that God was not really good after all. All the squelching of desire, while on the surface made me feel spiritual and godly, was actually my heart believing Satan's oldest lie.
How could I truly love the Lord if I did not trust Him with the deepest longings of my heart? How could I claim to walk by faith if I didn't hope for things that only the Lord could provide? How could I experience God's highest and best if I didn't risk believing Him?
The Lord allowed me to see that burying my true heart's desire was an act of unbelief. It was taking my heart, hiding it, and telling myself and others that I refuse to long for more because I don't believe there is a loving Heavenly Father who is willing or able to change my situation.

It can seem more godly to not desire, when really not desiring may actually point to fear and disbelief. We can be fully content in Christ and accepting what He has both given and withheld, while simultaneously desiring marriage and laying out our hearts before the Lord. Desire is not a burden to be rid of, though honestly that is what it feels at times.

The ache and pain of singleness that we feel is not a sin. Bitterness and resentment of course could potentially take root and the desire could become an idol and obsession, but the ache and desire in and of themselves are not sinful.

Waiting with Purpose

The Lord may not take the desire away from us, even if we are to remain single, but He uses suffering and unfulfilled longings to draw us closer to Himself. He doesn't just allow us to have an unmet desire to be cruel. He's not up there laughing or pulling a prank on us. 

The waiting is not without purpose. If we are to one day be married, the wait can serve to make us a better spouse-in-the-making. Waiting somehow gives us the ability to love our husband/wife more, deeper, fuller, truer. 

Waiting is meant to be active. We should be expecting God to move and expecting Him to draw our hearts closer to Himself in the wait. So even if the fruit of our waiting and faith doesn't result in a spouse, it will still result in making us more like Christ, which is ultimately what matters most.

He Withholds No Good Thing

I have to remind myself every single day that the Lord withholds no good thing from me. We need to preach the Gospel to ourselves and soak in this truth.

"For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly." ~Psalm 84:11

It might feel like different circumstances would be a better thing, but we must cling to the truth that the God who created marriage and the entire world is perfectly capable of changing everything in a heartbeat if He so chooses. If He doesn't change things, it's for our good and His glory.

As Charles Spurgeon encouraged us to remember, "Had any other circumstance been better for you than the one in which you presently find yourself, divine love would surely have put you there."

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the Heavens are higher than the Earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts your thoughts." ~Isaiah 55:8-9

An Eternal Perspective

Not feeling at home in this world reminds us that this world is in fact not our home. There will not be human marriage in Heaven. The picture will give way to the reality, and we will all find our perfect fulfillment in Christ.

May we be the kind of Christians who leave it all on the altar, not being fearful of desire, yet also not demanding or expecting the object of our desire. May our desire for marriage instill in us a deeper desire for Jesus.

~You can read more posts I've shared on singleness by clicking here.


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