Is This Really God’s Best?

Good doctrine protects us from all kinds of errors and all kinds of fears. One of the important things you must know, understand, and believe is that God has planned good for you and not evil. He loves His children. His
Providence rules His world and He governs His people with kindness. “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies” (Psalm 25:10). If you have a solid biblical doctrine of God’s omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience, this will protect you from many doubts, worries, and fears about the future, as well as keep you from fretting over the past.

            The unmarried woman can expect to be assailed with temptations to worry about the future: What if I never marry? What if I marry, but it is too late to have children? What if there is no one for me after all? What if I missed “God’s best”? These are questions that are impossible to answer because all “what if” questions are not really questions at all, but doubts. They disrupt your peace and bring troubling thoughts; they rob you of your joy by introducing fictional and future trials. Jesus said not to borrow trouble because each day has enough of its own. These sorts of thoughts are temptations, and God wants you to learn to deal with temptations, whatever form they take.

            Jesus tells us not to be anxious about our lives (Mt. 6:31-33). We are to cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).Worrying will only make life miserable. It is fruitless. So how do you deal with temptations that come in the form of “what if” questions? This may seem like a simplistic answer, but here it is: ignore them. Do not answer them; in fact, do not listen to them. Rather, ask what good things God has given you to do today. Focus on today’s duties. This is a fruitful use of your time. Recognize that those “what if” questions are temptations to get you to feel blue, worried, lonely, or anxious. Do not engage in a conversation with yourself about this stuff. Ignore, ignore, ignore. And set your mind on something helpful, something that is profitable. This is how we fear God. And when we fear God, that holy fear swallows up all our other petty fears.

            If you have a long history of worrying about such things, it may take you a while to change your habits. You may not even realize how much time each day you are thinking such thoughts. Start paying attention to your thought habits and reject the questions. Do not listen. If you were listening to a radio station that starting playing obnoxious music, you would change the station. Do the same thing with the conversation in your mind. Change the station.

            Jesus has promised that He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). This is the reason that every Christian can be content with the circumstances God has given. He is always with us through every trial. Thomas Watson, the great Puritan preacher, wrote that “It is our work to cast away care; and it is God’s work to take care.” God’s Word is full of promises to us; we must believe them and rest in God’s care for us.

            The other harassing temptation that the unmarried woman can be assaulted with is to fret over the past. “Maybe I should have married so-and-so after all.” “I wonder if I was being too picky…” “Maybe I should have gone on that singles’ retreat…” Notice that temptations about the future often begin with “what if,” but temptations about the past often begin with “maybe I should have…” or “I wonder if…” And of course, these have no legitimate answer either. The only way to respond to “What if I never get married?” is to say, “What if I do?” And the only way to answer, “Maybe I should have married Steve” is to say “Maybe I shouldn’t have!” Some wise saint has said, “Don’t doubt in the dark what you knew in the light.” If it was clear that Steve was not the one back “in the light of day,” don’t begin to worry about it now. You may be feeling lonely which affects your good judgment. Once you get into a worrying state of mind, you have a low sales resistance to other sins: self-pity, bitterness, self-centeredness, etc.

            If you have sinned objectively, confess it. For example, if you knew that Steve was a godly man that you respected highly, but you didn’t want to give up your non- Christian boyfriend, then that is certainly an objective sin to confess. But doubts don’t go away even if you confess them all day long because you are confessing the wrong thing. Don’t confess the doubts; rather, confess listening to the doubts, and then forsake the wrong doing. Quit listening! Change the station! Don’t fret about the past and don’t worry about the future.

            Have you ever noticed how unattractive worry is on other people? Being anxiety-ridden is like taking ugly pills. This kind of worry is really self-centeredness. It is all about me and my life and my future. On the other hand, a spirit that is resting in the Lord and rejoicing in Him is lovely to behold. This kind of spirit can focus on others and is not distracted with its own needs. Cultivate this kind of internal beauty and quit taking the ugly pills.

            As you get rid of worry of all kinds, replace it with the right kind of thinking. You are not living out God’s second best. He is writing your story, and it is a good one. Believe Him. If you are walking in faith, you have grounds to believe that your story is a blessed one. But if you are living in disobedience, you may think you need to take the pen to write the next chapter yourself. You might be afraid of what God has in store for you. But He promises blessing to those who walk in His covenant. If you are living in disobedience, then you have no grounds for assuming that the story has a happy ending. But if you are walking by faith, confessing your sins, and seeking to please God, you can know that He will bless you. Your faith may be tested, but so is everyone else’s. Remember that testing produces patience, experience, and hope (Romans 5:3-5).  God tailors our circumstances according to our soul’s needs, for our soul’s good. This should be an encouragement! God is concerned with our souls, and we should be as well.

            God’s promises are not just for the married people. They are for all those who are His. Your duty is to believe Him. Believe that He is ordering your life for your good and His glory. Then look around to your duties so you can serve Him more devotedly, more entirely, more fully. And ask Him to give you great joy in your duties as you trust Him. Refuse to play any guessing games or “what-if” games that destroy your joy and trouble your soul. You can then be sure that not only is your life not God’s second-best plan for you, but it is the abundant life that Christ promised, a life that is vibrant and self-sacrificial, full of peace and overflowing with joy.

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7 thoughts on “Is This Really God’s Best?

  1. My only objection is that the inference could be made, especially from your second-to-last paragraph, that “living in disobedience” is what is keeping the single woman from the “happy ending” or “blessing” of marriage. The problem is that this would imply that married women have this blessing of marriage because they are living in obedience.

    I’m pretty sure you don’t mean to imply this, as it borders on a version of the prosperity gospel (with marriage as prosperity and singleness as poverty). It also conflicts with your overall theme of contentment and God’s sovereign grace. But I wanted to point out how it sounded, at least to the ears of a never married 39 year old!

    And if you are going to remind single women not to worry or whine about singleness, don’t forget to remind married women to stop responding to any verbalization of a desire to be married with “oh, it’s so much easier to be single”. The nice part about being 39 is that I’m not stupid enough to think that marriage solves all or even any problems. I’d even agree that in a lot of ways it is easier to be single than to be married. Although I’m still trying to figure out where I’ve misplaced all the free time singles are supposed to have due to any lack of real responsibilities – you know, that time we can use to really serve God during this time we are gifted with singleness. (Okay, sorry about the sarcasm – I guess this is why I’m still single.)

  2. Thank you for this great post. I fall into worry alot and recently have started ‘Changing Channels’ (by focussing on God through scripture verse or song) when worry or fear about the future starts to develop in my thoughts. It is such a comfort and relief that God only give us each day what we can bear and when we cast all our cares on him and trust in what we know to be true. My load is indeed lighter when God I focus on what is true and righteous.

  3. I think you could cut and paste 99% of this into a study for married women as well. Thanks for the wise words.

  4. Wow as I was sitting here crying and looking through your blog anyway, I was evidently led to read this because these are the very things I was shedding tears over:).

    Praise God for His love and His mercy, even His chastening is and can feel good!:)

  5. Definitely SO wise.

    I can speak from experience when I say that “changing the channel” or “ignoring” thoughts is no easy feat. It takes a lot of thought and determination at first. Our bodies are so used to indulging in worry and imaginary stories/future situations that breaking the habit can sometimes feel like we are forgetting to do something. As if, when we haven’t worried and considered ALL the possibilities, something will inevitably go wrong.

    Now, I am trying to remember each time that I begin to over analyze something, that God has already written my story. And I can make my plans, but he will guide my footsteps. So why bother with the worry?

    Wish it was easier said than done…but I’m working on it! God’s teaching me, and guiding me to Posts like this one. 🙂

  6. Thank you so much for posting this!! It brought tears to my eyes because it seems as if you had looked into my life these past few months and wrote this. Blessings on your house and further work.

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