Article (by Charlotte Myers)
This is a question that will arise in many of us as we look for a partner. When a relationship is something we desire, we find ourselves wrestling with how we trust God and wait for him to provide, while also being practical in putting ourselves out there. This is a hard to navigate but it ultimately comes down to perspective.
Putting ourselves out there and actively considering our options for dating is not an indication of a lack of trust in God. ‘Waiting on God’ is not apathetic, but a proactive patience; Proverbs 16.9 says ‘the heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps’. This question has less to do with finding a correct ‘work/ wait’ balance when finding a partner, rather, navigating how we remain dependant and trusting in God as we work and wait. One can only be truly patient when they truly trust the one they are waiting on.
One can remain dependant and trusting in God while at the same time planning and working for (or in) a relationship. We can be intentional in our searching for a relationship while also being patient and secure in the knowledge that God is ultimately in control, and that is a good thing.
Do we know, really know for ourselves, that God knows best? Do we trust His no? Do we have faith to worship God for his goodness even If we never find a spouse? Do we trust that God has good things planned for us? Putting our faith in a sovereign and all loving father will take the anxiety out of the search for a partner. Remember that God is the object of our affection, not the things he gives us, nor the things we desire for ourselves. If we can truly trust God in our work and with our desires, we will operate not out of fear but out of faith. Trying to look for a partner in your own strength can lead to fear and poor judgement.
Now it is not wrong to have desire for a relationship, but our desires become sinful when they challenge or oppose our love and trust in God. We must not allow our desire for a partner to challenge the fact that God is good, nor allow it to have control over our ability to love God and love others in the way Christ has called us to.
This leads into a few pointers to ensure that you are looking for a partner with the proper perspective. These points may help to bring more clarity on the term ‘actively waiting’.
- We must ensure that our desire for a partner is for the Glory of God. Augustine writes ‘He loves Thee too little, oh God who loves anything together with Thee, which he loves not for Thy sake”. Here Augustine alludes to the truth that nothing can satisfy us apart from Christ, and to love something more than him is idolatry. To believe a relationship, a marriage and a family will satisfy or fulfil us in a way that Christ cannot is wrong. Relationships are not separate from God. Marriage is a union that has been given to us as a reflection of the relationship Christ has with the church as described in Ephesians 5: 22-32. While an imperfect model, it is something that illuminates Christ, and we participate in them to participate with Christ. Paul writes that whatever we do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), if we desire marriage, may it be for the Glory of God and not ourselves. As you hope for a partner, do so with Christ at the centre of your motivation.
- Ensure your desire is found in faith. Is your faith in the hope of a happy married life? Or is your faith rooted in the saving power and love of the gospel truth of our fully satisfying, fully loving father who promises you eternal life in him. We are called to live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5.7), not for the pleasure of this life, but for Him. A plan formed out of panic or fear can lead to compromising situations and poor judgement. Rather, operate in trust and patient faith; let that desire be embedded in the knowledge and security of the love of God, that no matter what your relationship status, He gives good things to his children in accordance with His will.
- Ensure your expectation for marriage is not unrealistic. Often a desire can be intensified by unrealistic expectations. Marriage is not the end goal, nor the key to happiness, do not idealise it or think that it will solve your problems. It comes with its own challenges and trials. It will not satisfy the longings of your heart in the way that Jesus can.
- Remember that biblical patience and looking for a partner in proper perspective should not end in bitterness. When we actively look for a partner in the knowledge of Christs love for us, we will not be bitter or sour when we do not get the results we expect. Desiring a relationship is not wrong, but when we believe we are entitled to that desire, or allow it to consume us, we have strayed from trusting God in our searching. To neglect Christ or the loving of others when faced with disappointment is to have placed that goal above our love and devotion for Christ. Continue to give thanks, be joyful and patient, trusting God as you work and navigate your desire for a relationship.
- Surround yourself with a bible loving Christian community. They can help you as you battle to keep your desires in their proper place. As you are putting yourself out there or dating, you are vulnerable, and opening yourself up to explore options. This can be a big step and may not always go the way you hope. It is important to have friends who encourage us and continue to point us to Christ in those moments of hurt or disappointment. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, ‘Two are better than one, for they can help each other succeed. For if they fall, one will lift his fellow’. Surround yourself with people that will help you persevere, trust, hope and give thanks to God in all circumstances.
God does not promise us a relationship, just look at Paul in 1 Corinthians 7, however this does not excuse us from trying nor does it allow us to take control of fulfil that desire. We work for ourselves while being completely dependent on God. This answer might not be satisfactory, but, as most things with faith, this is a duality we must navigate: Active waiting.
Desiring God. (2019, January 16). ‘Why is God withholding marriage from me// Ask pastor John’ YouTube:
Saint Augustine of Hippo Quotes. (n.d.). https://allauthor.com/quote/178281/