Monday, July 29, 2013

The Desire to be Married

"Is This Really God's Best?"
Chapter Five of "Why isn't a pretty girl like you married?" by Nancy Wilson

Good doctrine protects us from all kinds of errors and all kinds of fears.  One of the important things you must know, understand, and believe is that God has planned good for you and not evil.  He loves His children.  His providence rules His world, and He governs His people with kindness.  "All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies" (Psalm 25: 10).  If you have a solid, biblical doctrine, not only of God's sovereignty, but also of His wisdom and love for you, this will protect you from many doubts, worries, and fears about the future, as well as keep you from fretting over the past.

Years ago, a young woman asked me what I thought about her praying for a husband.  She had been taught that God didn't know the future, so He didn't know whether she would marry or not.  This made her wonder what the point of praying could be.  Bad doctrine has bad consequences.  Good doctrine teaches us to ask God for the good things He created.  He mandated marriage; it was His idea.  So a Christian woman should be able to ask God to bestow His good gift of marriage on her.  I have sometimes told women to "tug on the Lord's sleeve."  He likes us to persevere in prayer!

In the meantime, she can expect to be assailed with temptations to worry about the future:  What if I never marry?  What if I marry, but it is too late to have children?  What if there is no one for me after all?  What if I missed "God's best"?  These are questions that are impossible to answer because all "what if" questions are not really questions at all, but doubts.  They disrupt your peace and bring troubling thoughts; they rob you of your joy by introducing fictional and future trials.  Jesus warned us not to borrow trouble because each day has enough of its own (Matthew 6: 34).  These sorts of thoughts are temptations, and God wants you to learn to deal with temptations, whatever form they take.

Jesus tells us not to be anxious about our lives (Matthew 6: 31-33).  We are to cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us (First Peter 5: 7).  Worrying will only make life miserable.  It is fruitless.  It is telling ourselves bad stories.  So how should you deal with temptations that come in the form of "what if" questions?  This may seem like a simplistic answer, but here it is: ignore them.  Do not answer them; in fact, do not listen to them.  Rather, ask what good things God has given you to do today.  Focus on today's duties.  This is a fruitful use of your time.  Recognize that those "what if" questions are temptations to get you to feel blue, worried, lonely, or anxious.  Do not engage in a conversation with yourself about this stuff.  Ignore, ignore, ignore.  And set your mind on something helpful, something that is profitable.  This is how we fear God.  And when we fear God, that holy fear swallows up all our other petty fears.

If you have a long history of worrying about such things, it may take you a while to change your habits.  You may not even realize how much time each day you are thinking such thoughts.  Start paying attention to your thought habits and reject the questions.  Do not listen.  If you were listening to a radio station that started playing obnoxious music, you would change the station.  Do the same thing with the conversation in your mind.  Change the station.

Jesus has promised that He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13: 5).  This is the reason that every Christian can be content with the circumstances God has given.  He is always with us through every trial. ... Thomas Watson, the great Puritan preacher, wrote that "It is our work to cast away care; and it is God's work to take care."  God's Word is full of promises to us; we must believe them and rest in God's care for us.

Another harassing temptation that can assault an unmarried woman is to fret over the past.  "Maybe I should have married so-and-so after all."  "I wonder if I was being too picky..."  "Maybe I should have gone on that singles' retreat..."  Notice that temptations about the future often begin with "What if," but temptations about the past often begin with "Maybe I should have..." or "I wonder if..."  And of course, these have no legitimate answer either.  The only way to respond to "What if I never get married?" is to say, "What if I do?"  And the only way to answer, "Maybe I should have married Steve" is to say "Maybe I shouldn't have!"  Some wise saint has said, "Don't doubt in the dark what you knew in the light."  If it was clear that Steve was not the one back "in the light of day," don't begin to worry about it now.  You may be feeling lonely, and that has affected your good judgment.  Once you get into a worrying state of mind, you have a low sales resistance to other sins: self-pity, bitterness, self-centeredness, and so forth.

If you have sinned objectively, confess it.  For example, if you knew that Steve was a godly man that you respected highly, but you didn't want to give up your non-Christian boyfriend, then that is certainly an objective sin to confess.  But doubts don't go away even if you confess them all day long, because you are confessing the wrong thing.  Don't confess the doubts; rather, confess listening to the doubts, and then forsake the wrong doing.  Quit listening!  Change the station!  Don't fret about the past and don't worry about the future.

Have you ever noticed how unattractive worry is on other people?  Being anxiety-ridden is like taking ugly pills.  This kind of worry is really self-centeredness.  Being self-absorbed and worrisome is about keeping me and my life and my future all on center stage.  On the other hand, a spirit that is resting in the Lord and rejoicing in Him is lovely to behold.  This kind of spirit can focus on others and is not distracted with its own needs.  Cultivate this kind of internal beauty and quit taking the ugly pills.

As you get rid of worry of all kinds, replace it with the right kind of thinking.  You are not living out God's second best.  He is writing your story, and it is a good one.  Believe Him.  If you are walking in faith, you have grounds to believe that your story is a blessed one.  But if you are living in disobedience, you may think you need to take the pen to write the next chapter yourself.  You might be afraid of what God has in store for you.  But He promises blessing to those who walk in His covenant.  If you are living in disobedience, then you have no grounds for assuming that the story has a happy ending.  But if you are walking by faith, confessing your sins, and seeking to please God, you can know that He will bless you.  Your faith may be tested, but so is everyone's.  Remember that testing produces patience, experience, and hope (Romans 5: 3-5, AV).  God tailors our circumstances according to our soul's needs, for our soul's good.  This should be a source of comfort to us.  God is concerned with the health of our souls, and we should think the same way He does.

God's promises are not just for the married people.  They are for all those who are His.  Your duty is to believe Him.  Believe that He is ordering your life for your good and His glory.  Then look around to your duties so you can serve Him more devotedly, more entirely, more fully.  Ask Him to give you great joy in your duties as you trust Him.  Refuse to play any guessing games or "what if" games that destroy your joy and trouble your soul.  You can then be sure that not only is your life not God's second-best plan for you, but that it is the abundant life that Christ promised, a life that is full of peace and overflowing with joy.

Asking God for a husband is a good thing.  Persevere in it.  Continue to remind Him that you want to be married.  Tug on His sleeve.  But don't fret over it.  As you pray, do all in your power to "make it happen," without compromising your biblical standards. ...


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