From Genesis to Revelation, troubles and trials are an enormous theme. Ultimately, all pain and suffering are a result of the fall of man, but God promises to use hardship in the life of the believer to grow our faith and produce maturity. In God’s wisdom and love, he turns trials into faith-building exercises for his people on their way to glory. While unwanted singleness is a light trial in comparison to others, the muscle needed to walk through unwanted singleness is the same muscle needed to walk through any unwanted thing: the muscle of faith.
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The thing “hoped for” and “not seen” here is not marriage. This verse is talking about all of God’s promises to those who believe in Him. God has not promised us marriage, pleasant circumstances, or many other things we may want. But He has promised us infinitely more glorious things: forgiveness of sin, fellowship with Him, an eternal place in His family, a role to play in the growth of that family, sustaining and comfort in every trial, an inheritance in heaven that is unfading and imperishable, a day when tears and sorrow will be gone, and the absolute confidence that we will not be disappointed with how our lives played out.
Whatever trial we are going through is not essentially about the trial. It’s about us and God. Do we trust Him? Do we believe His Word? Are we living for His kingdom or our own? Instead of focusing only on Paul’s words about singleness to gain wisdom on the topic, we should look also at what the Bible says about living the ordinary Christian life—-which includes unwanted circumstances and daily walking by faith. These concepts take up much more space in our Bibles than teaching on singleness does, and we would be wise to order our reading and teaching accordingly.
Seeing unwanted singleness as a trial also helps those in the body of Christ truly relate to one another—-not based on the uniqueness of our trial, but on our common experience of various trials. For example, I know very few women my age that are still single—-and I do find encouragement in godly women who share my circumstance. But I have found a jackpot of encouragement in sharing life with believers in my local church who are living with trials of various kinds. We may have an assortment of unwanted circumstances, but we share the same source of strength: the promises of God. For single people, our best comrades may not be other single people, but fellow Christ-followers who are holding fast to the Word of God in the midst of their own struggles.
Let us not miss out on an opportunity to exercise our faith and experience the ministry of the body of Christ. When we see unwanted singleness only for its advantages and not its hardships, we ignore reality and hinder the growth of faith muscles. We also miss out on mutual ministry among believers. Chances are, there is an area in every Christian’s life that is hard for them to trust God with—-whether it’s singleness or something else. The married and the unmarried can find common ground through shared vulnerability, paving the way for encouragement as we bear one another’s varied burdens and point one another to Christ.
Finally, unwanted singleness is not just a situation to leverage or a trial to be endured faithfully—-it is also a loss worth grieving before the Lord.