Furthermore, whatever emotional battles you face now, your Savior is well able to sympathize with you. He understands your weakness and is ready to help or nourish or strengthen you in whatever temptation you face: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin" (Heb. 4:15).
You face temptations to doubt God’s plan, to doubt God’s goodness, to take matters into your own hands, to settle for less than God’s best for you, to fill your life with substandard and superficial entertainment to numb yourself from the deeper issues in your heart. And yet, "For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help [succor, nourish] those who are being tempted" (Heb. 2:17-18).
On a practical note, I highly recommend The Path of Loneliness by Elisabeth Elliott. I have at times had the attitude that I am a victim of my circumstances, and I look for anything to medicate me to put me out of my misery. Distract me. Give me hope that something is going to change. But whatever you do, don’t make me really think about my reaction to this stage of life. If that’s your attitude, don’t read this book. But if you refuse to play the victim and instead stand ready to face head-on what God does for us through pain, loneliness and personal loss, this book is a good companion on that journey.
Elliot calls it a “severe mercy.” Loneliness, loss, pain, suffering. It is the severest form of God’s love and mercy. It is “not good” that we be alone. Death, loss, sickness—these are the result of the fall of man and sin on the earth. And yet God in His sovereignty governs the fallout of these pains. Sin bombs our lives, but God guides the ashes to the ground—like the fireman to the rescue, He clears the path to the one door of escape. And then the bomb becomes not simply a force of destruction but the avenue to see God’s providence and hand of provision more clearly. It becomes a “severe mercy.”
You will never hear me minimize the pain you experience at this stage of life. But if there is one thing I've learned from godly older single friends, it is that we cannot wallow. We are not victims.
We cry out to God. We weep when we struggle. We are honest with ourselves and our church body about our burdens and struggles. But after all is said and done, we echo with the apostle Paul, "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body" (2 Cor. 4:8-10).
Adapted from Wendy Alsup's blog, theologyforwomen.org. She is an author and blogger. She is also a wife, mom and college math teacher who loves ministering to women.
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