QUESTION: As a single Christian (49 years old) I have asked myself many times, "If God gives me the desires of my heart, why am I still single?" Starting at age 24 I raised my niece and nephew in the absence of their parents, took care of my step-grandfather when he took ill (his children refused to look after him) took care of my sick, aging parents, looked after both sisters when diagnosed with cancer and took care of their children. I felt God put these tasks on my heart, and I have no regrets. Although not perfect, I strive daily to treat others right, pray for others, and read the word daily. I attend church, Sunday school and bible study. I know that I am blessed, I believe in the power of prayer, and I have seen many blessings and miracles of my Savior. But I feel God has forgotten me. I have a hard time dealing with singleness; I never thought I’d be dealing with it at this age.
Scripture reads "Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…"
Please help me to understand this Scripture fully.
I truly understand where you are coming from and know for a fact you are not alone in your feelings. Most Christian singles, at one time or another, struggle with the seeming conflict between seeking and doing God’s will, and their own personal desires.
I suspect many of us also share some sense of resentment or abandonment after years of trying so hard to follow His commands, while waiting for our own hopes, prayers and expectations to be met.
Even Jesus questioned God’s intent at one point.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Matthew 27:46
I know this provides little consolation for those debilitating doubts, recurring questions, internal struggles, lonely nights and uncertain future, however, maybe we can discover a plausible explanation and some optimism since so many of us are going through this similar experience.
At first glance, Psalms 37:1 seems almost too simplistic – trust in Him and He will give you what you want, eventually.
Try absorbing this passage in a more individual way spoken directly from the loving, caring Father He is (and wants to be to us) by listening to Him recite this personally to you (substitute “the Lord/Him” with “me,” and “He” with “I”).
When I hear His words in this way, I know there is more for me to do in service to Him, that He loves and cares about me and in His time He will provide the desires of my heart. The more I grow in the knowledge of Him and His will for me, the more endurance I have to wait patiently for God’s best for me, not just my immediate wants.
Jesus had His share of personal struggles on earth, yet He came to a point of peace with His Father.
“Abba, Father,” he said, “Everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36
Have you reached that point of totally trusting in the Lord? Have you fully accepted whatever His will is for your life or are you still wrestling with Him? Have you asked Him to take your cup from you?
When we have truly reached that place in our life where we have accepted His desires, with patience, we may be able to better understand Psalm 37 and honestly say, “not what I will, but what you will.”
All of us experience tension with God about this subject at some point or another. For many of us it’s a constant struggle. Like you, many wonder why they haven’t found a mate when they desire one so badly. Many women desire nothing more than a child, but they are unable to conceive. The list is endless.
You have made a conscious effort to care for your family in lieu of prioritizing meeting other singles or raising up biological children. I want to emphasize how much your servant’s heart is cherished by God. 1 Timothy 1:8 says “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” You have truly lived out the Christian faith in the most tangible, self-sacrificing manner possible.
It would be easy, trite and (I think) untrue for me to tell you: “Keep waiting!” or “God will reward your sacrifices!” I cannot in good conscience do that. Many people never marry. Many people marry much later than they anticipated, for a myriad of reasons. The truth is that God never promises us that we will get everything we desire. What he does say, and what you have mentioned that Psalms 37:4 says, is
“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” (emphasis mine).
You see, if the Lord is our delight, he will be the desire of our hearts. Everything else will just be extra.
God is always there for us. God is always reaching out to us, desiring us, wooing us. He is always trying to get us to be satisfied in him. Because life is a series of trials and disappointments. Satisfaction is not really a place we can get to. But if we delight ourselves in him, he can fill that void, regardless of whether the rest of our lives line up with our ambitions.
HE is … cliff young, a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades. He has traveled the world in search of fresh experiences, serving opportunities, and the perfect woman (for him) and has found that his investments in God, career and youth ministry have paid off in priceless dividends.
SHE is … debbie wright, Assistant Editor for Family Content at Crosswalk. She lives in Glen Allen, Virginia and is an avid writer, reader, and participant in local community theatre.
DISCLAIMER: We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. We're just average folk who understand what it's like to live the solo life in the twenty-first century. We believe that the Bible is our go-to guide for answers to all of life's questions, and it's where we'll go for guidance when responding to your questions. Also, it's important to note that we write our answers separately (we think they sound eerily similar sometimes, too!).
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EDITOR'S NOTE: he said-she said is a biweekly advice column for singles featuring a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to he said-she said (selected questions will be posted anonymously).