A few weeks ago I was listening to a sermon a friend sent me on singleness. It was actually pretty good which was a pleasant surprise. The pastor had humility and admitted he was on thin ice because he had never really been single. He then went on to actually preach on what Paul said about singleness. You read that right – he actually talked about it. Over all this guy had a lot of great things to say.
But of course he had to toss out something “comforting” at the end. He said essentially, “If you are single right now, you need to recognize that God has you there. It is God’s best for you right now.” Really?!
Often in an attempt to respect God’s sovereignty, we end up assigning things to God that we need not. This idea that where I’m at is God’s best for me can be really, really tricky.
First of all, I personally choose against God’s best for me every day. Even though I am a saved person, I still struggle with sin. I do not choose God’s best every time. So unless you want to blame God for my sin, I’m not always doing God’s best.
Secondly this sets us up to assign all struggle to God. This can lead to terrible conclusions about God, myself and others. In an extreme example let’s take the Penn State story. Was that God’s best for those kids? Just because it is happening does not make it’s God’s best or God’s fault. There are consequences to sin – mine and others. This doesn’t even include the fact that we have an enemy (heaven forbid that we actually discuss that from the pulpit – but I digress).
My point here is not to get into a theological debate per se. My point in this context is that me being single doesn’t necessarily mean that God “has me there” or that this is God’s best for me.
Now as I’ve said many times, God may well have you single right now. He may even call you to a life of singleness (I want to say more about that later but it is more a call to a vow of ministry than a call to not be married – you are called in the positive to serve in that way, not the negative to focus on what you will not do – that is get married). If that is true then that truly is awesome and right. It is God’s best for you.
But if you don’t feel that call then I think it is risky to say that singleness is God’s best for you. This leads to us being mad at God when maybe it’s not really Him holding out on us, or keeping us single at all. Maybe it’s my own sin or other’s sin. Maybe it’s the reality that we live in a broken world and a culture that values marriage less. Maybe my singleness is driven by my fear and woundedness. If I just chalk it up as God’s best for me then why would I choose to engage all of that. Assigning it all to God can keep me from facing my own sin and hurt.
Here’s what we do know. God loves us right where we are. He has not abandoned us. He is not holding out on us. It may well be that He wants to walk us though some stuff so that we are better able to pursue marriage but that is different than saying that He has us right where He wants us.
Maybe instead of saying, “God, why are doing this to me?” (man I spent a lot of time there), we ought to be asking Him what He wants to do in me right now. In the context I’m in, what does He want me to do next.
God’s will can be hard to determine – not that it’s bad to try necessarily. We need to be careful with assuming that just because I am somewhere that means that is where He wants me. To do that ignores sin and brokenness. Instead we need to lean into Him and start to work through that sin and brokenness. Whether that leads to marriage or not is somewhat irrelevant.
Let’s say I get married in the next year. Am I to assume that God has willed me to wait until 40 to get married? Was that His best for me? Maybe it has been his plan all along or maybe not? Does it really matter? What I do know is that regardless of my marital status when I turn to Him, He is constantly willing to lead me to the best He has for me. And that should lead me to be thankful in all circumstances – including singleness.