Today is my birthday. I turned 32 at 6:57 am (PST). I’m still single.
My prayer this week has been, “God, remind me of the value of waiting. Remind me in this limbo that You are still good.”
I’ve blogged a lot about how I get to know Jesus more in the waiting and in singleness, but this week I’ve been normalizing singleness. (Translation: I could have way worse problems.)
I would never, ever poo-poo the hardships of the single life. Valentine’s Day is coming up again, with its mixed feelings. Loneliness is real and sometimes inevitable. Dating is weird.
Sometimes, yes, singleness is actual suffering. But in blogging about it (in other words, processing it ALL THE TIME), I think I sometimes lose track of the bigger picture.
My church has been reading the book of Acts together, and those first-century Christians had some serious problems. Sometimes, the political leaders would say, “okay, you’re right,” and then beat them up anyway! (Acts 5:37-40) No matter how hard they did the right thing and spoke only good things about God, they were imprisoned, kicked out, beaten up, and even killed.
And it wasn’t just the first-century Christians who had that problem. Throughout history, Christians have been tortured and ostracized and separated from their families. In some periods of history, different church factions would burn EACH OTHER at the stake. Good grief.
I hear contemporary stories all the time about men arrested for holding church in their homes, or women killed by their families for professing Jesus over Allah.
Even if I didn’t want to talk about the persecuted church, there are plenty of other problems I could talk about: abortion, Syrian refugees, human trafficking…
Bringing it closer to home, I see friends making bad decisions, adoptions falling through, deaths of loved ones, grandparents’ health problems, siblings’ job hunts…
And it all makes me think two things:
1) How wonderful is God that He allows His glory to be displayed so greatly in our darkest moments.
2) Maybe singleness isn’t the biggest problem or the source of the greatest suffering in the world, after all.
I think the second thing is pretty self-explanatory, but the first probably needs to be unpacked a little.
When Jesus came to this world, He suffered more greatly than anyone else ever had or will. Physical, emotional, spiritual, relational, financial – He had all the hardships. He made all the right decisions and spoke all the right words, and He was still killed by his own people.
Yet, no one who reads the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection says, “Dang, God did NOT know what He was doing” or “That’ll teach Him to be a goody-good.” Everyone who reads or hears the story of Jesus and lets it sink in can’t do anything but marvel at the plan God had since before time began. (Seriously, J. K. Rowling had nothing on that.)
This is because the plan doesn’t end with the cross or the tomb or the Sabbath without Jesus. It continues on to the part where Jesus rises from the dead; where He kicks death in the teeth and shows it Who is boss. It ends with Jesus going to heaven to advocate for us for eternity so that He can share heaven with us (2 Tim 1:10).
If that’s not evidence of the glory and grace of God, I don’t know what is. The beauty of this story (the Gospel story) is that it reminds us that nothing can ever happen that is too big for God to handle; nowhere is so far that He can’t meet us there; no one is so awful that God can’t use him/her.
EVERY problem I have, EVERY “suffering” brought on by singleness or another birthday, EVERY Valentine’s Day spent buying Conversation Hearts for myself is the opportunity to see God work, and to know Jesus better.
If God can use persecution to make the first-century Christians rejoice, abortions to drive Christians to prayer, job hunts to show his provision, and even my messy kitchen to make me thankful for my roommates, I’m pretty sure He can use my singleness/waiting to do something wonderful – in my life, and in the life of my future family.
So it seems my prayer this week has pointed me to the glory and majesty of the all-surpassing grace of God. Can’t ask for a better birthday present than that!
Aaaaand, now I’m off to go get chocolate for myself.