We serve a God who can do the impossible. In August two years ago I wrote a long post about courtship, which I’ve summarised in some of these posts. At the end of my article I wrote: “After all this, you have to actually like the person . . . or preferably fall in love! If that all seems impossible, as it does to me often, remember that we serve a big God who loves to see his people happy and functioning effectively for his kingdom.”
I’ve been amazed at how God has answered my prayers. Marriage has been better than I ever imagined, and I still marvel at the way God brought Dave all the way across the world! I rejoice in the way we are able to support and love each other. At the same time, marriage has made me realise again the importance of trust. Singleness is a real trial to many people, especially those who struggle with sexual desires that cannot be fulfilled or with loneliness. Yet marriage can bring with it its own particular unfulfilled longings.
God chose to withhold the gift of children from Dave and I in the first year of our marriage. We always knew he might do so, and that it might even be his will that we were permanently childless. Our marriage vows contain a deliberate acknowledgement of this. We did not promise to raise “our children” to know and love Jesus, we promised this for “any children God gives us”.
Yet despite this mental acknowledgement, we experienced a lot of fear about why we weren’t getting pregnant. Many negative and even sinful emotions emerged. As the seemingly endless pregnancy announcements kept coming, we wondered if there was something wrong with us. Of course, the announcements that were attended with the label “unexpected” were the hardest.
Now that God has blessed us with an unborn child, I am still laying down dreams. The desire to adopt a child runs very deep. Yet if anything, getting pregnant has made this harder. I’ve had to repent of wanting to control situations in order to be able to adopt. Only God will enable us to adopt, just as only God could give us a biological child. It has got to be his dream, not ours.
In the face of unfulfilled dreams, we all have a choice: trust God, or be miserable and without hope. We must say with the hymn Prince of Peace, Control My Will “May thy will, not mine be done, May thy will and mine be one”. This is particularly hard when we know that what we want is in line with the general will of God. Marriage is the general will of God, as is bearing children and the placement of orphans in families. It is right to desire these things, but we must want the fulfilment of God’s specific will for our lives more – even if it means we are denied the very things we believe God’s word leads us to desire.
God does not call us to an emotionless life. Unfulfilled dreams will, at times, be a source of grief. We can entrust our broken lives, and crushed hopes, to God and know that he does not condemn our sorrow. Yet in the midst of this God is calling those who are hurting to trust Him and believe He knows best. As we seek God, He will provide ways for us to serve Him in the circumstances He has appointed. It is in God that we find our ultimate hope and inheritance, not in earthly families and relationships. He wants us to desire Him above all else.