“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows my sorrow…..”
As a long-time single, this has often been my mantra. I never intended to be single at this age and there are times when I find it very difficult and frustrating. And sometimes I want everyone around me to know just how difficult and frustrating it is. I complain to anyone within earshot. You fellow singles know the challenges all too well – the sexual desires that have nowhere to land (without resulting in sin), the loneliness, the lack of direction, goals, and structure in your life, feeling like an oddball, fear of an even more dismal future, jealousy of others who are married, lack of identity……..oh no, I’m doing it again……..
One of the biggest benefits of being a member of the church – and evidence of God’s sheer brilliance in creating the church – is that in meeting and greeting each other regularly, worshipping God together, praying for each other, encouraging and admonishing each other, we come to know what is going on in each other’s lives. The church is made up of saved sinners who are in a variety of life stages. Some are retired empty-nesters while some are still in school; others are married with small children while some have a household full of teenagers; several are divorced while a few are widowed. As I watch each of them face the difficulties inherent in those varied situations, it’s as if the Holy Spirit is whispering in my ear,
“Janice, you’re not the only one with problems.”
The Bible is clear that not only does God allow trials and tribulations into the life of Christians, but He uses them to mature, discipline, and sanctify us (James 1:2-4, Romans 5:3-5, Hebrews 12:7-11). They are an integral part of our Christian walk, so no believer is spared from difficulty. Even those who have reached the Blessed Land of Marriage are not immune to problems, frustrations, and trials – in fact, marriage seems to amplify some problems. I don’t mean to discourage anyone from desiring marriage as a single, but it helps us to know that marriage, as wonderful and godly as it is, does not ensure a life that is problem-free or elevate you to some higher plane of blissful happiness (Admit it: We singles often think it will. Human nature.)
There are difficult marriages, even in the church. Probably one of the hardest of marriages is that between a Christian and an unbeliever. There’s a reason God commands us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). The results are often heartbreaking. Many find themselves in this situation not due to disobedience to the command but simply because they were unsaved when they married and then later were called by God but their spouses were not. Marriage is difficult enough even under ideal circumstances but it can be especially trying when you and your spouse do not even agree on the biblical purpose of marriage, what makes a marriage good, how the children should be raised, or that God should be a part of major decision-making. Yet the Lord does not give Christians a free pass to divorce when they are in such a marriage (1 Corinthians 7:12-14). I know several godly women who are living out 1 Peter 3:1-6 and I don’t envy them. I pray for them.
In the godliest of marriages, where both spouses are believers, internal pressures like debilitating illnesses, difficult in-laws, and financial hardships can bring much turmoil. And even if you take all those troubles away…..if you’re tempted to think that the attractive young couple with the adorable little toddlers in the pew in front of you is living a Norman Rockwell-like existence……the external pressures of living in a sinful, God-hating, marriage-dishonoring society can take its toll. It’s not just single people who have to protect themselves from sexual immorality and materialism, for instance. These unholy influences affect marriages, too.
Don’t get me wrong. Marriage is a good, godly goal. But don’t let Satan pull an Eve on you and make you think God is burdening you with problems by not giving you what you want. He may be sparing you from some.
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