What do you do when you need something and nothing fits the bill? Do you take something less, or do you walk away and trust that God will provide what is best even though you can’t see it now?
“Wait on the LORD, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land…” (Psalms 37:34)
There any many, everyday examples to illustrate this principle. Imagine needing an item of clothing–say a pair of rugged jeans for an upcoming camping trip. But when you get to the store, the only pants available in your size are an elegant pair of dress pants that would rip and snag and simply not meet your needs. Do you buy them anyway, and try to make them work? Or do you leave and go elsewhere to get what you really need?
What about entertainment? Say you feel like watching something, but the only shows available are genuinely bad–either not worth your time simply because they’re very poorly made, or movies that you know will be inappropriate for one reason or another. Do you go ahead and pick one anyway, figuring you’ll suffer through it because you’re desperate enough? Or, do you exercise prudent self-control and wait until there is something available that is truly worth your while?
Abstaining from that which isn’t right for us is a principal worth developing, because someday, we will need to exercise it while making decisions that hold graver repercussions than simply what we wear or watch. There will come a time when we will have to decide whom to marry, and if the right person isn’t available at that moment, will you settle for one who “will do,” or will you wait on the Lord, trusting that He knows your particular situation, loves you, and will provide what is best?
While we may mentally agree with this, putting it into practice tends to be harder. It may be difficult to walk away from someone who is interested in you and willing to marry you. After all “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” you might think. You might even like this person, and he or she may have become a friend. But if there are significant reasons why they would not make a good spouse, marriage is not the answer. An addiction, for example, is a deal breaker, because it will mar your married life beyond what you can begin to imagine. Lack of faith in Christ or evidence of a commitment to obeying Him is also something that needs to be resolved beforehand, not left to chance or relegated to the realm of merely hoping he or she will change.
Yet, what if this person has no particular glaring flaws, but you just aren’t crazy about him or her? Biblically, there is no admonition against such a marriage, yet I have come to believe it is an unkind thing to do. Ideally, the person we marry should have strengths that we very much admire–more so than someone else would–and flaws that don’t bother us as much as they would someone else, instead of the other way around. If we marry someone we don’t especially care for, taking them off the marital market, so to speak, it takes away from them the hope of someday having a spouse who is truly in love with them–one who really admires their strengths and is not particularly bothered by their weaknesses–and that is a supremely unkind act. All because we want to get married at that moment and no one else was offering.
It is incredibly difficult, when you’re ready to marry and there is no one available, to believe that things will ever be any different. We may even feel that we are giving up our one chance if we let an inappropriate person go. Yet one’s life really does not end at twenty-four, or twenty-nine, or even beyond, if you don’t get married by then. You continue to grow and develop, both in terms of your appearance and your intellect and personality, and there are many opportunities to find someone throughout life. Some, in fact, find that having foolishly married earlier, they are now unavailable for a marriage they might truly have been happier with, had they waited.
But what of the flip side example of no one ever being good enough to marry? It is absurd to wait forever for a person who doesn’t humanly exist–a mythical creature of romance novels or fairy tales, endowed either physically, emotionally or spiritually with qualities no mere mortal is–when there are many real-life flesh and blood human beings available who would make excellent spouses, if only we seriously considered them.
In concluding, let’s consider what God’s Word tells us: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) There is a time for a young person to focus on his or her education to equip him or herself to function effectively and even, if God allows, significantly, in adult life. But eventually there comes a time–equally important–for adult life, which for most includes marriage and family. Our job is to put each season of our life to best use “wait[ing] on the Lord and keep[ing] His way,” and always glorify Him.
Thank You for each season of our lives which You give us; help us to wait on You and keep Your way. Help us recognize which season we are in, and make the best use of our time for Your kingdom, bringing You glory! Amen.