Jennifer was a single woman at my church. She was 36 years old and complained that her life was slipping away. Six years had passed since her last boyfriend, and her dating life remained in limbo.
After attending church regularly for over two years, she suddenly disappeared. Three months later, I bumped into her at a restaurant and asked her whether she had moved to another church. She replied, “No, I’ve quit church altogether. I just can’t bring myself to worship a God who would leave me in such loneliness.”
Does God promise us a spouse? Well, technically yes. Our true spouse is Jesus. We as Christians are the spiritual bride of Christ. But how many of us have thought, “Wouldn’t it be better if I could enjoy God’s love with someone else?” So, we pray for God to bring us a husband or wife.
The gripe for love
In my search for a spouse, I encountered numerous relational struggles. Once I did get married, my wife abandoned me six months into our marriage. I started to wonder if God actually cared about my romantic relationships. Whenever I felt particularly upset about being single, I would sit in my recliner and complain to God about how unfair my life was. I couldn’t understand why He didn’t give me a wife.
One day, I began to look back over my life and the numerous dead-end relationships from my past. In each situation, the relationship would start out with a bang, but then quickly fizzle. It didn’t matter who I met: either I was too demanding or she couldn’t accept me for who I was.
Suddenly, something clicked. I thought, “Why am I chasing marriage when it can’t provide me unconditional love? Only Christ offers everything I need.” With this new perspective, I realized I shouldn’t be so demanding with God. I still wanted to find a spouse someday, but I no longer considered marriage necessary to complete my life. If I remained single for the rest of my life, that was OK — God would be the One who fulfilled my heart.
When we expect God to give us a husband or wife, and when He doesn’t provide one — or provide one as fast as we want Him to — our anger builds a wall between God and us. When we demand marriage from Him, it’s like we refuse to accept God’s love. He will never stop loving us, but when we are so desperate to find a human being to make us happy, we end up ignoring Him.
God is in control of everything, but He doesn’t intervene just to make our lives easy. He had no intention of making a woman magically appear and fall in love with me. Instead, God wanted to use my singleness to make me into someone who would initiate sacrificial love towards other people. I had wanted to get love, but God was teaching me to give love.
The freedom to love
God does help you to meet and love other people. But it’s important to remember that you make the final choice about who you accept and who you reject. When you interact with another person, you have the freedom to decide which direction your relationship will take. You can choose to become romantic, to just be friends, or to break up. And don’t forget: the other person has a say in the matter too! A relationship won’t develop unless both of you decide to love each other. And if either one of you continually makes selfish decisions, you may find your relationship start to crumble before your eyes.
Why is life so hard sometimes? Why doesn’t God use His power to protect us from pain?
God is at work, but in a different way than we realize.
Without the freedom to choose, you and I would be robots. Fortunately, God limits His power to let us make our own choices in life. Does this freedom cancel out God’s power? Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a man are established by the Lord.” God is so powerful that He can allow you to choose and still work the outcome for His glory.
God wants you to enjoy true love, and true love can’t exist without choice. If you were forced to love God or another person, then it wouldn’t really be love, would it? Choice is the key ingredient to love.
I remember back to junior high school when I couldn’t get a date for the prom. I had asked several girls to go with me, but they all turned me down. Four days before the big dance, a friend told me about a girl named Tiffany who needed a date. Frankly, I wasn’t attracted to her, but I asked her anyway because she was my only option.
During the prom, Tiffany and I attempted to be cordial, but it became obvious that neither of us had any interest in each other. We didn’t talk during dinner, we didn’t want to dance as the band played, and we didn’t smile as our pictures were taken. Most of the evening, we sat in silence and stared dreamily at our crushes across the room. Love can’t exist unless both people freely choose to be together.
Marriage is not a predetermined process that happens mysteriously. If you believe that, you’ll get easily frustrated: if God arranges marriages, then why doesn’t He stop divorce? God lets us make the decision to love and the decision to leave.
Choosing to love
You can improve your opportunities for romance by getting out and choosing to sacrificially love people. Or, you can opt for selfish or reclusive behavior and diminish your relational prospects. The quality of your social life hinges on the choices you make.
Does God promise you a spouse? Yes, a spiritual one. If you are part of the Church, you are part of the bride of Jesus Christ. Does God promise you an earthly spouse? No. This isn’t a promise that’s made in the Bible. So rather than expecting God to provide you a husband or wife, maybe it’s time for you to ask God to show you how love Him more.
God wants your spiritual marriage to be your heart’s primary source of love and acceptance. Relationships are the avenues to express His love to others. And the bonus is, the more you love other people, the more you are filled with a passion for Jesus.
God may not orchestrate a passionate romance on earth, but He does promise a life of passion to enjoy with Him. And that’s all the love you’ll ever need.