The Gift of a Gift Withheld

June 14, 2013 § 1 Comment

Are parents, churches, and mentors giving their young girls — and progressively older single women — the right message about God and His promises? We women know that our ideas about when and why God “will” provide a husband begin to form very early, and can consume much of our thoughts as we approach marriageable age.

If we aren’t careful, the well-intended instruction we receive can settle into an If-Then formula in our minds. We begin to expect something that God has never promised, expecting it as a matter of course if we simply obey the right verses (or the right popular Christianese catchphrase).

A few people tried to teach me which husband-producing prayers to pray, but I am so grateful that my parents and youth leaders were faithful to speak truth to me. Truth like we don’t really know whether or not God has a husband for me. They taught me to seek the Lord without a marriage agenda.  I am still sinful and plenty of false thinking grows up in my mind beside the good planted there, but with truth I am well equipped to pull out those weeds.

One of the most impactful things in my life was my youth pastor’s wife reminding me of Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

Specifically, the first. “Whatever things are true.”  True. I love what a rock-solid, concrete word that is. She fed me this verse over and over, and it has stuck with me ever since. Think on what is true. Search the Scripture and see. Is it true that God gives a young woman a husband when she’s become holy enough? When He decides that she loves Him enough? No. God’s ways are not our ways. We don’t really know what makes Him decide who gets a spouse.

But wait. In a way, we do know. We know from Romans 8, from the whole testimony of Scripture, and from what we see looking back that God’s decisions are always whatever will bring glory to Himself, and whatever is best for His child. Without exception. So let’s meditate on that. Whatever God gives, and whatever He withholds, is the best possible action He could take on our behalf. God is not passive, waiting to give something good until we are worthy of it. He is always active, and the purpose is always our good and His glory. If I am without a spouse, then without a spouse is the state which God deems best for me and most glorifying to Him, and that will remain my state for as long as those things remain true.

Psalm 84:11
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.”

Meditate on what is true and remember that even something we see as the lack of a good gift, is a good gift.

Teach your young women, as young as possible, to trust and love God for His own sake, to take with humility and thankfulness those gifts He gives, and to recognize, with that same humility and thankfulness, the gift of a gift withheld.

“Follow Christ for His own sake, if you follow Him at all.” – J.C. Ryle

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