"Waiting on the Lord" Series
from Virtuous Daughters, January 2016~Volume 15, Number 10
“Brrrrring!” As the phone echoed through the house, there was a clatter of feet on the stairs, and within seconds an enthusiastic little voice was calling, “Margaret! It’s for you!”
Laying down the napkins she’d been folding, Margaret hurried over. “Thanks, Joseph,” she smiled, before saying into the phone, “Hello, this is Margaret.” Her face lit up with pleasure as she recognized the voice of her friend Jennifer—a phone call from her was a once-or-twice-a-year affair.
For perhaps fifteen minutes, the girls talked about the various little events since their last chat some months before, but Margaret could tell that something was on her friend’s mind. At last, Jennifer burst out:
“My sister Annie is engaged to Thomas Craddock from church!”
A warm glow of delight spread through Margaret. “How marvelous!!! I’m so excited!!!” The multiple exclamation points were evident in her voice. Already her mind was running back over events, noting tiny instances that should have given her a clue that “something was going on,” recalling ways in which Annie and Thomas were like-minded and would make good marriage partners… Her heart sang as one by one, each of the times she’d prayed for Annie or for Thomas, asking God to send them “His best” in His perfect timing, came to mind—What an answer to prayer this is! Lord, You are so kind and loving, and love to give Your children good gifts! And how perfectly He has prepared them for each other—they fit together in this way, and that way, and I never noticed before but He has already prepared them for each other in that other way….
Suddenly, Margaret realized that her wholehearted, grateful joy was not shared by her friend.
“…Oh, it’s the right thing and everything,” Jennifer continued on in a flat tone, “they’re made for each other and all; our parents and everybody is so thrilled, and can see this is God’s will. But—oh, Margaret, I’m just all torn up about it! I mean, here she is getting married, and here I am…. Like, seriously, here she runs off to get married to this guy, and I’m here at home, no prospects in sight….It’s—well, everyone around’s all glad and everything, but this will change our lives—it won’t be the same, and I’ll have to wash her lunch dishes as well…”
Margaret was almost at a loss for words. This response took her breath away with bewilderment. Jennifer swept on, as Margaret prayed for wisdom on how to answer.
At last, as Jennifer’s voice trailed off in a tearful wave of self-pity, Margaret took a deep breath. “I will be praying for you, Jennifer—I can tell this is hard for you. But you know Christ can help—remember what you shared with me in our last call about God’s providence? If we really believe that ‘He works all things for good,’ then—”
Jennifer broke in, “Oh, I know all that—but it’s all so different. I feel so alone now that I’m older. I bet you feel that, too, Margaret. My younger sisters have friends, but the girls my age are now pretty much all married, and we seem to have nothing in common. Even the girls I was really close to before—now that they’re married, I seem to have nothing to talk about with them when I see them. They have their husbands and usually little ones, and they talk about new things… it’s just awful. I feel like I’ve lost them. It’s so—so discouraging sometimes, and can really get me down…don’t you feel this, too? And I’m sure Annie will be the same way….It’s not fair! Why is she getting married, and not me?!?! Oh, Margaret…”
Through Margaret’s mind flashed the remembrance of the hot summer day two years before when she had found out that her younger sister Helen was courting. Her own amazed, almost tearful delight—after all those years, her prayers were being answered: a godly man had asked for her sister’s hand in marriage! Margaret’s deep gratefulness stemmed from a realization of how skillfully, with roadblocks and side-traps, Satan tries to distract godly young people from “God’s best” and get them involved with someone who would discourage, distract, or defeat them… And yet here God was answering her prayers, and bringing together a great young man and her sweet sister… The memory still brought waves of that day’s joyful, deeper realization of God’s love for His own. He was so good!
But how could she truly explain that all to Jennifer’s hurting heart? Praying silently for wisdom, Margaret tried to answer.
“Your relationship will change once Annie’s married,” Margaret began, “it won’t be the same unmarried-sisters-together-at-home friendship, but it will be still wonderful, though somewhat different. You’ll have opportunities to bless and encourage her, even as she will be able to give you deeper, helpful insights from her new perspective. I really haven’t felt like I have lost any of my now-married friends, Jennifer. Sure, our topics of conversation have morphed a bit, but even so it is new and exciting to hear their widened perspectives. If anything, it has been even more exciting to be single, now that I am a sister-in-law and an aunt. There are so many more opportunities to serve, new people to learn from, etc.!
“‘Fairness’—you know, Jennifer, that God is not interested in ‘fairness.’ We exist to glorify and enjoy God, and if we can glorify Him better by being unmarried at this time, then that’s where He will have us. I have prayed for you often, Jennifer, that God will bring you a godly husband. You have so many fine qualities—I know you would make a good helpmeet to the right man. Trust God to do what is best for you, dear Jennifer. Turn to Him with your fears and pain.” Margaret’s voice was tender. But though muted out of respect for her friend, her voice quickened with excitement as she went on,
“Jennifer, this is such a victory! God has brought two godly young people together, safely through the perils of the World, the flesh, and the devil, and now they will be able to work together for His glory! And—Lord willing!—you may soon have nieces and nephews, which will be such fun—and a new area of service and influence…. Besides, aren’t you glad for Annie, Jennifer, that she’s blessed with such joy right now?”
“Oh, yeah, but it’s terrible—things were all so comfortable at home, and this’ll mess up all that: it won’t be the same, for me!” Jennifer sniffed. “Sure, Annie might be happier, but what about me?” Jennifer’s voice wobbled to a stop, then continued with a wail of pain, “And—and—Annie gets to get married, and here I am, and—no guy has ever asked to court me!”
Most girls will, at some time in their life, face one or two—or maybe all—of Jennifer’s feelings. It can be so easy to feel “left out” or “passed over” when others are getting married and we are still single… or wonder why others were chosen and not us… to long for that special companionship that a marriage can bring… or to give in to jealousy or self-pity or…
What can we do about these feelings, these emotions?
King David was a man who felt deeply—he struggled with many different emotions, as we see in the Psalms. Yet he did the right thing with those feelings—he poured them out to the Lord. In Psalm 62:8 he writes, “Trust in Him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.”
When you struggle, just pour out your thoughts and feelings to God in prayer. Sometimes, in deep emotional turmoil, all someone can do is just that. But when you can, go further—ask Him for His comfort, His help, His perspective, His healing. Be willing to admit any areas of fault in your life—selfishness, jealousy, self-pity, or whatever He might reveal to you.
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus faced an emotional struggle far, far worse—far more horrible and gut-wrenching—than anything we will ever face. “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44) And the way He responded to it is a shining example for us: “[And Jesus said,] Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42)
Jesus tells God what He is feeling—but He also submits Himself to the will of God, knowing that it is ultimately best.
Here’s something else we can learn from Jesus’ example. He had this time of deep emotional turmoil, in which He poured out His feelings to God, and submitted Himself to the wise guidance of His Father. After that, what did He do? He went to the Cross for others. We need to crucify our hateful selves—our self-centeredness, our self-pity, our self-reliance—and focus on others. Next time you face these kinds of feelings, instead of wallowing in self-pity or regret, why don’t you try to think of others and reach out? Share the skills God has gifted you with: encourage that
courting girl as she goes through the changes courtship brings; help that bride-to-be make the perfect bridesmaid dresses or address the invitations; help that newly-married friend; change your mental focus, and find as much joy talking about “menus for a growing family” with your married friend-with-3-kids as you did chatting about singleness when you were both unmarried…
I have found that praying, often, for the future marriages of all of my unmarried friends and siblings is not only a privilege, but such a joy when those prayers are answered!
What did Jesus say? “Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matt. 16:24-25)
It’s one of those amazing paradoxes.
If we give our life up—if we focus on others instead of ourselves—we will find true, rich, overflowing happiness.
But if we cling to our desires—our petty jealousies, our seductively-sweet self-pity, our comfortable self-centeredness—then we will find misery, pain, and ultimate grief.
Many girls will face some of Jennifer’s feelings. But if you do, you don’t have to stay there. You can move forward, and God will help you to find Margaret’s joy and enthusiasm instead.
Will we overcome?
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