God Has Someone Planned For You
I must confess that this subject is very near and dear to my heart. Like most college students, I am also feeling the itch to get married. I am blessed not to have family members who really push the issue or make me feel guilty because I am single, but I know that for some, that is not the case.
Unfortunately though, it is not just our relatives who urge us to get married. It is also ourselves. We come up with a timeline in our heads of what will happen to us: Graduate high school at 18, go to a four-year college, find a boyfriend, graduate in four years, get a job right out of college, get married soon after graduation, and within a few years have kids. One of the huge landmarks we see is marriage. We all expect it to happen; the question is when. Think about your previous break-ups; how do your friends and family comfort you? More than likely they say something along these lines at some point: “Oh don’t worry, there is always another guy out there” or “There are plenty of fish in the sea” or “I just know that God has someone better planned for you” or “You just need to wait for God to bring your husband into your life.”
If you are attempting to comfort your friends or siblings with those promises, please stop. You are setting up an expectation that perhaps will never be. It may seem to be comforting to assure a friend who is hurting that there will be someone else for them, but it isn’t, for a couple of reasons: One, you do not know that your friend or sibling will get married, and two, your friend or sibling will grow to be discontent because they are trusting in something other than God.
Is Marriage a Promise?
I first want to focus on the first problem: We don’t know if we are going to get married. Throughout all of our lives we are told, “Well, when you get married…” We treat it as a certainty, or that it is a promise that God has given us. However, we are never told in scripture that we will get married. We are told that God will be with us (Deut. 31:6), that we will face trials (John 16:33), that He will give us strength (I Cor. 10:13), that we will grow (Phil. 1:6), that we have the Helper or Comforter (John 14:16, 16:7). Not once in the Bible does God promise that we will be married. In fact, Paul speaks of the blessing of never getting married (I Cor. 7). I think that most who use this cliché are tempted to think that this “God has someone planned for you” is a right that we have, and we get angry with God when He does not supply a husband for us. Kelly Needham wrote discussing this concept in the article, “A God worth Waiting For.” She talks about the truth of the matter: We wait and trust in things that we perceive are reliable. If we trust or wait for anything else besides God, that is an idol.
Quick side-note: I am not saying that marriage is bad. What I am saying is that it is not a promise. Marriage is a beautiful picture of the gospel as we see in Ephesians 5. It is a beautiful sanctifying experience that grows both you and your husband to be more like Christ. It takes work, love, humility, grace, selflessness, and Christ to be successful. I never want to say that marriage is not a great thing, I just don’t ever want to idolize marriage.
Another thing that we do when we do not receive what we think that we deserve is, we also start bargaining with God. We think, “Now if I just grow enough and become a good enough Christian, then I will be married.” “If I just conquer (fill in the blank), then God will give me a husband.” Sometimes we are guilty of being angry with God because we think we have completed all of the “requirements” to be a Godly wife and He has still not given us a husband.
Is Marriage A Necessity?
I know I am guilty of looking at the wonderful singles in my church and thinking, “They are such wonderful women of God, why aren’t they married?” As if marriage was the purpose of our growth in the first place. We are to grow to glorify God. There is an excellent article also written by Kelly Needham, “My First Love: Repenting of Marriage Worship,” that targets what I am talking about. She compares the phrase “I am waiting for God to bring me my husband” to the phrase “I am waiting for the waiter to give me my pizza.” She says, “In this example, you do not have much regard for the waiter. The waiter is only the vehicle by which you get what you are truly there for: your pizza. You are not expecting the waiter to come and sit down and talk with you, but to simply deliver the pizza.” Let’s pause here for a minute because there are some dangerous ramifications to this way of thinking. When we treat God as our waiter, bringing us what we really want, we are not worshiping God, but we are worshiping ourselves. We need to seek to serve God, instead of wanting God to serve us. This is so idolatrous! God is so great, so powerful, so loving. There is nothing in this world that He is not in control of, and that includes our lives. This prideful view of God sees Him as one who is just there to help us, like a vending machine or a grandfather who spoils his grandchildren without a thought of growing their character. So the question is: What do we want more: God or marriage? Let’s hope that the answer is God, because anything we want more than God is an idol, and marriage is not our purpose. Our purpose in life is to glorify God. Whether that is by being single or married, we are to glorify God in all that we do (I Cor. 10:13). Our purpose is not to get married and be a good wife, have kids and keep a good house. Those are merely things that God can use to glorify Himself. All of those things are wonderful, but they are not our driving force for living.
Are We Content?
All of this brings me to the second reason why we should not use this phrase: If we are expecting something that is not a certainty, then we will grow discontent. We read throughout scripture that we are to be content. We are told that we are to be content in our position in Christ, not in our circumstances. I know that most singles are frustrated with being told over and over again to enjoy singleness, or to use their singleness to glorify God, but that is what God wants from us. He wants us to enjoy our singleness to glorify Him. I’m not saying that it is easy, nor that it does not hurt to be single, but we are to be joyful and content in everything. The Village Church in Texas put out a wonderful sermon about contentment called “In Every Circumstance.” This sermon was revolutionary to my growth in contentment. The sermon goes through Philippians 4:10-13, in which Paul is thanking the Church at Philippi for their generous gift:
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
If we put our faith and trust in anything other than Christ, we will be disappointed. There is nothing in this world that is steadfast, so we must look to the One who is beyond this world. Paul goes on to explain to them that he is not speaking as though he needs something because he has learned the secret of contentment. This secret that Paul has learned is that this world is not about him, it is about God. This means that we should not look at this world around us with expectation as if the world owes us something. Instead, we should be looking for ways that we can glorify God.
What Does God’s Goodness Look Like?
Believe me when I say that I understand how lonely it can seem to be the only one in your friend group that is single. I know what it is like to go to friends’ weddings and long for the day that it will be you up there. I know what it is like to avoid all love songs because they are just too painful. I know what it is like to give yourself a pep-talk before doing nursery because the young married couples with their children just seems like a slap in the face. I know what it’s like to avoid all wedding boards on Pinterest because they just cause further discontentment. I know how you feel, but that doesn’t change the fact that being content is a command in the Bible, not an option. Honestly, life is so much better when you stop focusing on yourself and start focusing on God. We must practice thankfulness to truly praise God and to be joyful. Of course, it hurts. Of course, it’s not easy, but nothing about the Christian life is easy.
So, should we use phrases like “God has someone planned for you?” No. We must steer away from these phrases because they hurt our view of God. Earlier I mentioned how we can feel entitled and then think that God is not good because He does not give us a husband. But in scripture we see that everything that we receive from God is a gift. James talks about God being the giver of good gifts. The problem is that we define what good is. We think that because we do not like it, or because it is painful that it can’t possibly be good. But the truth is that God is trying to teach us something and He knows that the best way to do that is for us to be single right now. We have to realign our priorities so that we seek to grow in Christ rather than to be happy or comfortable.
To ensure that we will not fall into trusting in false promises, I urge you to not use these phrases. We should not comfort our friends or family in this way. It is essential that we preach truth into our sisters’ lives, not empty promises. Instead, we should just hold them as they are hurting. If we must speak, we should say “I know it hurts, but God is working everything for your good,” or “God will provide what you need to grow in Godliness,” or “I will be here for you so that you will know that God is near,” or “God is all you need.”