On Being Single
2014-02-14
Today I have my single friends in mind.  As a pastor I get the opportunity to hear many single people lay their heart bare about their desire to be known and to fully know someone, to be in love, to be married, to share life with someone who would die for them.  The situations I have heard run the gamut of love lost, never found, still looking or maybe never finding.  I have friends who are single in all different stages of life.  For some, it seems to them that the window of opportunity to fulfill their dreams is shutting quickly as they increase in age.  For others, their past is such a burden that they find it hard to function in any relationship that is meaningful.  Still for others they are reeling from a broken heart and crushed feelings that they can never imagine falling in love again.  

I remember what it was like to be single.  All I wanted in life was to date and be married to someone who was out of my league.  I figured that in order to experience true happiness that I needed a really great woman.  God provided for me and I definitely married above my pay grade.  But I also still remember what those days were like.  The threat of loneliness.  The confusion of dating.  Watching all my friends go off on their group dates.  The crushed heart in high school and college.  Broken dreams.  I remember it and I would never want to go back to it.  I say all that not to make you feel bad if you are single, but rather to encourage you that there are others who feel the way that you do - maybe not exactly- but close.  

Valentine's Day comes along and no matter how hard we try not to, we buy in to the hype.  Pictures start popping up on Twitter, your friends are making dinner for two, and if you see another instagram of flowers and chocolate....you just may puke.  I'm a pastor.  So I want to point you Jesus in all of this.  I am not going to remind you of all the freedom that you have or of all the positives that come from being single.  I am sure you have heard it all before - and probably from a well-meaning married person who also likes to pour lemon juice into paper cuts.    

First, don't confuse desire with being discontent. When I speak to singles I often get the sense that they believe that their desire to be with someone is something that God must take away or they will be in sin for the rest of their lives. Your desire to want to be loved and to love is not sinful.  Having a sense of longing, and desire to be with someone is not sinful.   I believe that many single people are grieving.  Let me explain.  God saw man and said it wasn't good for him to be alone.  So he created another human being who would be perfect for him - a woman.  He created two equal human beings to love one another, know one another and to fellowship with God together.  When that relationship is absent there is grief for those who desire to be married and experience the intimacy with another human being that only marriage can offer.  Your desire to want to be in a relationship that matters and where you are loved and have the gift of loving someone else is God-given.  Can it become discontentment?  Sure.  When you take a good thing and make it the ultimate thing you will be discontent and you will sin.  But I have news for you.  We all make good things ultimate things no matter what our relationship status says.  When we recognize our idolatry we confess it, repent of it and we get to rest in the Gospel and know without a shadow of a doubt that God's grace covers even our worst discontentment.  But do not confuse your desire to be loved as a sin of discontentment.  

Second, God is sovereign over your singleness.  To quote David Crowder, "You are not the only who who thinks that they are the only one."  When there is something that we want and we don't get it we begin to think we are the only one who has been forgotten.  God knows the desires of your heart and He is sovereign over your life.  We are going to be singing a song at Stone's Throw Church this week called, "How He Loves."  As I listen to the words I am reminded of how anemic my love is for my wife and the ones I say that I love, but how incredibly deep God's love is for us.  You are loved.  You are loved by a very real God who died a very real death, who crushed a very real grave, and reigns now in a very real heaven.  I know that God's sovereignty doesn't immediately heal your hurt - I don't think that it is meant to.  God's sovereignty has the long game in mind.  Leaning into God's sovereignty is an every day kind of journey.  

Finally, allow your desire to drive you into a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Jesus.  I don't mean that you will lose your desire to be married by loving Jesus more.  It doesn't work that way.  But Jesus promises to lighten the load.  How does that work when you are battling discontentment, loneliness, temptation, rejection, slander, abandonment, false accusations....you see where this is going, right?  Jesus was single.  In Hebrews we are told that we do not have a Savior who is unfamiliar with our struggle - as a single person you have a unique understanding of what Jesus must have felt on this earth as he labored to do what God had called him to do.  Jesus knows your singleness.  He knows your desire.  He knows your temptations.  He knows your loneliness.  He knows what it is like to be single.  Be encouraged.  Jesus knows what you're going through even when others do not.

My prayer is that God would give you the desire of your heart and that the desires of your heart would be to glorify God no matter what your relationship status is.  Your God is jealous for you and His love will never be matched.  
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