Hindsight really is 20/20. Looking back on my single adult years, I wanted to be a model of grace and patience, trusting God every step of the way. But I wasn't. Not even close.
I married just before turning thirty-three. That's an eternity to some, a drop in the bucket to others. But it was longer than I expected to be on my own. And for large portions of those years I was plagued by angst, sadness, and distrust.
Sure, on the outside I looked good. I faithfully served my church, even moving 3,500 miles away for vocational ministry. But inside I wanted more. I wanted someone to cherish me above anyone else. Many nights I cried myself to sleep.
A big reason I missed out on God's peace and joy during my singleness was because I believed a lie. At the time I couldn't describe it. But deep down, I felt God didn't notice me, hear me, or love me because He wasn't giving me my greatest desire. It was a message straight from the father of lies, and I swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.
Remember the Mystery of God
The beautiful truth was the waiting had everything to do with my heavenly Father's love for me. The apostle Paul in Romans 11:33 says the wisdom, knowledge, and ways of God are unsearchable and inscrutable. In other words, He is so great and we are so small that we are literally incapable of understanding all He is working out in our lives. Yet even when we’re confused, He’s still worthy of our full trust (Ps. 103:11).
Trust That God Is For You
But the eyes of my heart couldn't see that all things come through the filter of my Father's love and wisdom—including my singleness. All through my singleness the Lord was inching me toward something even better than a husband: His infinite worth. Did trusting God mean my desire for a husband should go away? Did loving God fully mean I should stop hoping and praying for the gift of marriage? No. But He was patiently working to show me that God Himself is inherently better than the dearest of husbands. God Himself is more gracious, faithful, enduring, and powerful than anyone I would marry. God Himself is better than the richest of earthly gifts.
Treasure the God of the Universe
I measured God’s love for me by whether He fulfilled my deep desire. But He expressed His love to me by withholding what is good so I might treasure what is priceless.
In His fathomless love, the Holy God of the universe sent His only Son to die a gruesome death so I, His enemy, could become His daughter. The Lord’s matchless, sacrificial love was proven to me at Calvary during that great exchange: His life for mine. He spared nothing to rescue me from darkness. But I was calloused to the richness of Christ’s love as I longed for a husband.
The truth is I couldn’t get to contentment in my own strength. I needed to cry out to my Father for the grace and power to know Him as far better than anything in this life. Only His power could convince me that His daily provision for me really is an expression of this rich love. All along, He never stopped hearing my prayers, even when my faith was feeble. He was for me (Ps. 56:8–9)!
Remember He Won’t Give Up
Thankfully, the Lord never stopped pursuing me with this truth. I wish I could say say I figured it all out before marriage. But I didn’t. Did my confidence in God’s love for me grow when He answered my prayer for a husband? Of course. But the faith-focused battles we have in singleness don’t instantly disappear when we say, “I do.” More often than not we take them into marriage.
For me, learning to value the infinite worth of Christ blossomed through trials in marriage. Chronic illness and interrupted plans for children have been God’s chosen providence that further press the truth of His grace and love into my heart.
Likewise, as a single woman, your confidence in God’s love for you can grow whether or not He answers your prayer for a husband. As you see God increase your affection for Him, you can be sure that you are His child (Rom. 5:5). God never withholds what is infinitely best from His children (Himself), even when He chooses not to fulfill one or more of our desires on earth. And when our affections for Christ grow, the things of this earth, even the good things, really do pale in comparison.
Keep Trusting and Asking
The questions I continue to ask myself today are also questions you can daily ask yourself as a single woman:
- Do I believe what the Bible says about God’s faithfulness and love to His children even when life feels wrong?
- Do I find Jesus to be infinitely valuable above any other gift in this life?
- Do I measure God’s love for me based on what He is presently doing for me or based on His sacrifice on the cross?
In our own effort we cannot and will not savor Jesus as more sweet and valuable than any other. Yet with His grace our hearts will increasingly grow in faith and rest. This grace is for you if you are God’s child. You may never know why He is delaying marriage, but rest assured that as His child, God has not forsaken you! He did not spare His own Son for your ultimate good, and so He will surely give you all things that you need in this life as you follow Jesus (Rom. 8:32).
We would love to pray for you. Are you wrestling to believe God's love for you in your singleness?