Dr. David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Seminary. He is also Pastor of Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church. David is the author of Christians get depressed too, How Sermons Work, and Jesus on Every Page. You can read his blog at HeadHeartHand.org/blog or follow him on Twitter @davidpmurray.
When we hear the word “single” we usually think of one kind of single—someone maybe 25-50 who has not married. But there are other kinds of singles: widows, single parents, divorcees, those who suffer with same-sex attraction and even those who are in loveless marriages—perhaps the most painful singleness of all. But for all singles, there are 12 struggles that must be faced at different stages and to different degrees:
1. Submission not rebellion: Accept and approve God’s will as good, right and wise. That is not easy when every part of you is crying out for intimacy, as Fabienne Harford explained in Sex and the Single Woman:
In some ways—in dark and frightened places—I feel forgotten and betrayed and confused because I know he [God] knows me. I know he knows my body and my heart, and I know he designed and wired this desire inside of me.
Loneliness is my least favorite thing about life. The thing that I’m most worried about is just being alone without anybody to care for or someone who will care for me.
Fabienne Harford put it like this when speaking of her painful hunger for physical intimacy:
This pain has blessed me by forcing me to be all in with God: banking on him for my joy. Our God is a God of pleasure. He is not calling us to hunger because he wants us to be miserable. He is calling us to hunger because he wants us to experience the greatest pleasure available to man: himself.
Second, build strong friendships within your church family. Every single will tell you that the biggest help to living with singleness is friendship. Regarding those who fight against same-sex attraction, Corey Widmer issued this challenge to the church:
I’m now convinced any church that holds a traditional view of sexuality must also foster a radical practice of Christian community in which living out a biblical sexual ethic becomes possible and even attractive.
4. Opportunities not difficulties: Instead of focusing on the difficulties, use the single state to serve God and His people. It’s an opportunity to do things and go places that married people cannot do or go (1 Cor. 7:25).
Also, there are many lonely people you can serve and bless with understanding and sympathy. Fabienne Harford wrote of how the pain of lacking physical intimacy has become a gift that helps her serve others:
That pain has taught me how to hold my infertile friend and cry with her when Mother’s Day rolls around again. That pain has given weight to my words when I explain to a mom with three kids that Friday nights alone on your couch really aren’t as amazing as they sound.
5. Contentment not envy: Don’t be looking enviously or angrily at happily married couples. Although it looks picture-perfect as perfectly groomed children pour out of the minivans every Sunday morning, the reality is often very different. There are challenges and trials in every life situation.
6. Forgiveness not bitterness: Don’t get angry with God for His providence or with others for their insensitivity or thoughtless neglect of you.
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Source: Church Leaders