Lessons from Longing
In his book Waking the Dead, author John Eldredge describes spiritual battle in terms of "agreements." What agreements do I make with the dark voice that tells me I must not be capable of a deep, committed relationship with a man? That because of this, or because I'm not attractive enough, I'll be alone forever? I've begun to recognize this condemning voice and to refuse acquiescence. Because my singleness forces me to lean only on God for complete assurance, I've learned from him to see the battle more clearly, and he's teaching me how to fight. As a result, like Dorothy's Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, I've found courage to face an uncertain future without fear.
Psalm 27: 1-2 says, "The Lord is my light and my salvationwhom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my lifeof whom shall I be afraid?" God is and should always be my protector, provider, and Savior whether I have a husband or not.
In being without the earthly companionship I long for, I face a decision. Do I believe, as Eve did when she was tempted in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:2-6), that God is cruelly withholding the very thing for which my heart hungers? Or do I choose to believe what God has told methat he's doing what's best for me even if it hurts and I simply don't understand (Romans 8:28)?
Perhaps faith in the face of difficulty and disappointment pleases God simply because it keeps the ones he loves so close to him. In Mark 9:17-27, a distraught father brings his suffering son to Jesus to be healed. Jesus asks the man if he believes his boy can be healed, and the man replies, in desperation, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" I love this prayer; it's so wonderfully honest. In our darkest times, when we come to the end of ourselves and have tasted loneliness past what we think we're able to bear, we too can cry out to Jesus for help and hope. In resisting the temptation to doubt his goodness toward us, we're brought closer to him.
I've had nights of such loneliness and disappointment that I've wrestled with God and refused to let go. Although I feel wounded, I know he's with me, because Psalm 34:18 says, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." As I cry out for faith, I come to know his broken heart in ways only the brokenhearted can. After all, God knows what it is to long for something you don't have; he's longed for the affection of his loved ones for centuries.