Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask . . . Ephesians 3:20
If I could travel back in time about ten years or so and have a conversation with my twenty-something year old single self, what would I say? What advice would I give someone who’s already tired of being single knowing that she has a long road ahead of her? How would I encourage her, from the viewpoint of a thirty-plus year old single woman looking back over the years, knowing very well that the prospect of being single at thirty was terrifying at that young age?
I could say things like how this time of singleness is a good time to learn home-making, house-keeping, cooking, hospitality, etc., because these things really aren’t just for married women. Or I could give advice about dating and relationships, like “don’t judge a book by its cover” or “friendliness goes a long way in getting a date…” But I think the most important thing I could say would be, “Don’t lose hope. Don’t give up. Trust God. He is faithful.”
Over the years what I regret the most on this journey of singleness is how much I have doubted the Lord’s goodness to me. If I could change anything, it would be that I would have trusted Him more completely and would not have let disappointments create doubt in my heart of His love for me.
But we are forgetful creatures who often don’t remember the goodness of God or that it applies to our daily lives. It’s easy to begin to think that He is withholding something good from us when we see others with what we desire, or sometimes maybe we think that He really doesn’t love us that much and just doesn’t want to give us good things. But we can be certain of our hope in Christ, because we have His Word. We know how the Story of our Redemption goes and how it ends. We’ve seen His work, we experience His presence through the Holy Spirit and we know His character. The Scriptures, which are more reliable than our feelings or thoughts, tell us that He is good. He gives good gifts (James 1:17) and He longs to see us full of life (John 10:10), peace (John 14:27) and joy (John 15:11). He rejoices over us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17) and delights in us “as a Bridegroom rejoices over his Bride” (Isaiah 62:5).
This hope is a firm hope, an expectant trust in the plans of God for good. But there is another type of hope that feeds from that trust. This hope is more along the lines of what Paul says in his letters when he says “I hope to visit you” or “I hope Timothy can come to me”. These are real desires and things that Paul hoped for and wanted deeply. But Paul held these hopes with an open hand. It was an “if the Lord wills, we will do this or that” (James 4:15) type of hope, a “not my will, but Yours” (Luke 22:42) type of trust. It’s a hope that is convinced that God is good and will do what is right and perfect, whether it lines up with our wishes or not.
Our unfulfilled requests are an opportunity to trust Him and let Him decide what is best for us which, if we submit to and accept it from His selflessly nail-scarred hand, often becomes something more beautiful and beneficial than what we had originally wanted. Isaiah 55:9 says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We may not understand his timing or why he doesn’t do things the way we think they should be done, but we can trust that He is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good, and all together wonderful.
Singleness is an opportunity to find fulfillment in Christ alone and to display His sufficiency. It is a beautiful picture of the completeness and abundance of life that can only be found in Him. And it can be found in Him. So dear sisters, since I am not able to go back in time to speak to my younger self, let me say to you, “Don’t lose heart. Be encouraged. Don’t let discouragement or bitterness grow. Don’t give up. He is faithful. He loves you. He knows what’s best.”
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. Lamentations 3:21-25
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13