I laid in bed, weeping. I long to be married one day. But that night I asked, What if I am not supposed to get married? What if God intends for me to be single my whole life? Could I do it? I have never dreamed up a future for myself which did not include a husband. What if God has different plans for me? Am I willing to sacrifice my dreams for God’s plan? I could not escape these thoughts, so I began to pray.
These were not easy questions to ask myself. As I prayed, part of me wanted to give the goody-two-shoes answer and spit out, “Of course I am willing to sacrifice my dreams for Your plan, Lord. Next subject.” But another part of me wondered, “Why would You ask me to give up marriage, Lord? Marriage is not sinful, nor is the desire for it. Why must I choose between my dreams and Your plan? Why can’t they go together?”
Soon, the story of Abraham and Isaac floated into my brain. For the first time in my life I could relate on some level to Abraham during that scene. I imagine his heart cried out to God, “Why must I give up my son? Did you not promise to fulfill Your covenant with me through Isaac? Why would you ask me to kill him, if that is the plan?” Nonetheless, Abraham acted in obedience.
I gazed up at the ceiling and released my hold on my life, my future, my marriage. “God, if You want me to remain single all of my life, I will do so. I do not want to. But God, I am willing.” Then I cried myself to sleep.
As Abraham and Isaac departed, Genesis 22:5 says, “And Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you’” (emphasis mine). Although the situation appeared bleak, Abraham trusted the Lord to keep His promises. He intended to sacrifice the boy as He had been commanded, but he also believed that the boy would come back with him to fulfill the covenant which God had planned for him. Abraham demonstrated both obedience and trust.
Soon after I made that vow to God I met a man whom I will call Bryan. Bryan liked me and almost immediately began to pursue me. Although relationships tend to intimidate me, I felt remarkably comfortable around this man. I wanted to be with him. Unfortunately, I quickly learned that he was not Christian, which meant our most fundamental beliefs clashed. We talked for several hours the first week we met. By the time the weekend rolled around I already felt extremely attached. After much prayer and contemplation, I realized that I simply could not date Bryan. It would hinder my relationship with God, and my relationship with God was more important.
The next night that I saw Bryan he voiced the question: To date or not to date? Never in my life have I found it so difficult to reject a man. Miraculously, I followed through. I could not commit to a man who didn’t love my Jesus. This was my first real test since my conversation with God about Abraham and Isaac. I had kept my vow.
Although I had made my choice, doubts still plagued my heart. Shortly after this episode, an excerpt from my own journal reads:
I’m lonely. Isolated. Neglected. I want to throw up. Why? Because I have nothing better to do. I can’t feel God. Not tonight. I don’t know why not. Maybe because I’m too wrapped up in the guy I met last week. How do I get rid of the desire for human contact? Where does it come from in the first place?
My cat won’t do tonight. He is soft and cuddly. I love to hold him. But tonight I want to be held. I want to be the small one. I want to be cradled and loved. I want, I want, I want. I know it’s all selfish. But that knowledge is worthless. Because I don’t know how to make those selfish feelings go away.
In Psalm 6 David desperately cries out to God, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled. My soul is greatly troubled; But You, O Lord – how long?… I am weary with my groaning; All night I make my bed swim, I drench my couch with my tears. My eye wastes away because of grief…”
David was deathly ill when he wrote this psalm. Call me overdramatic, but I could relate completely to David’s desperation. There are nights when companionship feels as dear to my heart as life itself. Too many times I have cried myself to sleep over the desire for a man. In a way, this psalm brings me comfort. It reassures me. I’m allowed to go to God when I feel this way. It’s all right if I cast every last bit of despair within me onto His lap. I’m not the only one who feels this deeply. This vulnerable. This helpless. No matter the reason.
Just a few days ago I was thrilled to be single. The thoughts that brought me comfort then, are of no help tonight. My heart shows it’s true colors on nights like these. Will I praise God in the midst of my pain, or will I walk away, overwhelmed by my distress? On paper, the choice looks so simple. Of course I will praise God! He is worthy of my praise no matter what! But my soul cries out, “Where are You, God? I’m lonely!” As I trip on the stones and scuff up my knees along this narrow path toward Heaven, that wider path over yonder looks mighty tempting. After David’s heavenward plea he declares to those around him, “Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity; For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication; The Lord will receive my prayer.” To start off the next chapter he proclaims, “O Lord my God, in You I put my trust.”
Could David feel God’s presence when he wrote those words? There are moments when I am so enveloped by the presence of the Holy Spirit that I can hardly be bothered by my current struggle. I enjoy the overwhelming sense that He maintains control. I know He hears my every word because I sense His immediate response.
Unfortunately, I can’t sense His presence tonight. Since David never mentions feeling or sensing God in this psalm, I conclude his statements are made in blind faith. He says nothing of God comforting him in this psalm. He makes no references to the Lord’s loving response. Nonetheless, he confidently declares that the Lord has heard him.
Exactly how much do I trust God? Nights like these, painful and lonely, are necessary. How am I to grow in faith without facing a few obstacles? What is faith if I can always feel God in the midst of my suffering? Although I cannot hear His voice, I know that He asks me, “Daughter, do you trust Me?”