Receiving Singleness as a Gift from God - Nancy Leigh DeMoss
I am not single by accident. I am not single because the "right man" has never asked me to marry him. I am not single because I have made up my mind not to marry. Rather, I am single because God has chosen for me the gift of singleness.
I believe that I am single according to the perfect will and purpose of God. I have no way of knowing how long He will give me this gift or whether He will ever choose to give me the gift of marriage. I do not know whether it will be His will for me to be single in five years. But I do know that it has been His will to this point in my life.
I must set my heart to respond to this and every area of my life with the words of the virgin Mary when her world was turned upside down by an angelic messenger: "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38).
Certainly there are times when I whimper and long for something God has not provided. But over and over again, He brings me back to that wonderful place of trust and surrender that says, "Oh, Lord, if it pleases You, it pleases me." We tend to think that what is really good is the fulfillment of our desires. But, in reality, the highest good in the universe is whatever God chooses for our lives.
The question is not "What do I want for myself?" but "What does God want for me?" What will please Him and bring Him the greatest glory? What will best fulfill His purposes here on this earth?
For many singles, this will mean a willingness to remain single for a period of time. For some, it will mean a willingness to embrace long-term or lifelong singleness. For most, it will mean, in God's time, the willingness to accept the commitment and obligations of marriage.
While many single men and women long to be married, this is not universally true. With the increase in divorce and widespread dissatisfaction with family life, some adults are choosing to remain single to avoid the pressures, responsibilities and restraints of having a family.
Of course, marriage does involve tremendous responsibility and restraint. But in denying ourselves and embracing God-given responsibilities, we become all that He created us to be. It all comes back to that basic issue: What is the will of God for my life?
I have come to believe that you and I can manage to acquire almost anything we are determined to have. If we want to be married badly enough, we can find someone who will marry us.
If an unhappy spouse wants to get out of marriage badly enough, he or she can get out. But we need to be reminded of how dangerous it is to insist that God give us our own will. In fact, one of my fears is that God will give me everything I want! The history of the Israelites is a vivid reminder that when God gives us what we demand, we may also get with it "leanness into their soul" (Ps. 106:15).
Over the years, I have come to realize that contentment is a choice. True joy is not the result of having everything I want but of gratefully receiving exactly what God has given me. The enemy has robbed many of us of joy by getting us to live in that foolish realm of "if only ..." We feel that we would be happy, "if only ...":
"If only I had a husband ..."
"If only I didn't have a husband ... !"
"If only I had a different husband ..."
"If only we had children ..."
"If only we didn't have so many children ..."
"If only I had a different job ..."
"If only I lived in a different place ..."
"If only I could own my own home ..."
"If only I made more money ..."
The fact is, if we're not content with what we have, we will never be content with what we think we want. I am always concerned when I meet a single person who has not learned to be content as a single.
Generally, there is an expectation that marriage would make them happy. But marriage can't make anyone happy! In fact, sooner or later, every man or woman who marries so he or she can be happy is bound to be miserable.
Marriage is not about finding someone to make us happy; it is about learning to make someone else happy. It is not about getting; it is about giving. It is not about finding fulfillment; it is about self-denial and sacrifice.
The man or woman who does not learn contentment as a single is highly unlikely to be content once married. I have listened to the heart cries of enough miserable married women to be quite sure that there is no man on the face of the earth who can really make a woman happy (and vice versa).
The deepest needs and longings of our hearts cannot be filled by any human being but only by God Himself. To expect to find our needs met in marriage is to set ourselves up for certain disappointment.
The key to joyous living is to embrace the will of God and to receive with gratitude whatever gift He has given us.