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When We Say “Yes,” But God Says “No”

When We Say “Yes,” But God Says “No”

For those of us who long for marriage and yet remain single, it is easy to feel as if God’s plans for us are the exact opposite of our desires. And considering cross-cultural ministry can magnify this struggle. How should we process that frustration while we wait on God’s timing and pursue serving Him among the least-reached?

In every romantic comedy, there is that serendipitous moment where the girl meets the boy and the love story begins. These moments are there to make the audience swoon and, though sometimes love happens in a made-for-the-movies-moment, most often it doesn’t look like that. And, even if a couple has been lucky enough to find love in such a predictable way, they will inevitably testify that maintaining a relationship is hard work. Love is hard.

When, however, those love connections that some of us long for don’t come—when we wonder if we will ever meet our special person, curious if God has completely forgotten about our singleness—it can be easy to push the pause button on our life or to tell God we will serve him once real life comes along. Or, to say we’ll wait to serve God cross-culturally until we find our spouse.

This is an easy mindset to fall into as a single person considering cross-cultural service. It’s easy in life to imagine our next step will make things better. In junior high we long for later curfews. In high school, we long to be treated like adults. We imagine when we are single that marriage will bring a rush of fulfillment and security.

This is human nature, but it can be a dangerous way to think. As singles, we’re allowed to hope for marriage. But, each of us must consider, “If marriage never comes, will I trust God even so?”

Will you trust God for His perfectly serendipitous moments, when you are at the right place at the right time to offer the love of God to someone who needs it precisely at that moment? Will you trust God to align your talents and gifts with opportunities to use those unique abilities for His glory? Will you trust God enough to believe He’s got you and your desires are not forgotten by Him?

He will use you to be His hands and feet at just the right moment to offer a hug to a child who is hurting. He can use you to speak the love of Christ at just the right moment to someone who has never heard. He can specifically use you because you are single and can probably be more flexible and approachable in a way that is hard for those with a spouse and children.

Will you trust that your singleness will be used by God to accomplish His purposes? Our marital status may make no sense to us, but it makes sense to God. If God is calling you to cross-cultural ministry, don’t let being single hold you back.

Will you trust God to surprise you with His seemingly serendipitous timing as, in His all-knowing wisdom, He uses you for His glory to reach those who have never heard of Christ’s love for them?

Even if that means you are on the mission field alone for the first few years?

Even if that means you will never marry?

Even if everyone else on the field has the marriage you long for?

Even if it seems like God has said no to a marriage you so badly want?

That’s allowed to sting.

But we can move from that disappointment and acknowledge that God is trustworthy and wise, and we can fall into His guidance knowing full well that He’s got us. He knows of our longing for relationship because he gave us that longing. Don’t suppress your desire for relationship; let it pull you closer to Him. Whether there is marriage is in your future or not, He will make your joy complete as He uses your relationship status for His glory.

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