A confession of longing does not indicate a lack of faith. I will say it again. A confession of longing does not indicate a lack of faith. It is simply honesty. Many of us who are single encounter this accusation in speaking with those who have forgotten their time of trial—if they ever knew a time of trial. It is as though suffering in silence is more noble, living with pretense more spiritual, and smiling through the pain more righteous. I smile through the pain. I give and love and serve—but I am also honest.
We are allowed to confess our pain and our sorrow in the same way that David cried, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me” (Psa. 13:1)? God is not hiding His face. We know this. As His children, as His beloved Church, bought at the price of His Son, we are His treasure. Since He is ever attentive to our needs, our emptiness is best expressed in honest words to Him.
We are allowed to admit that life has not turned out as we planned. We are allowed to do this because God is not afraid of our honesty, and He cares. In fact, this very honesty allows the body of Christ to shed the accusation of hypocrisy. What misery to have neither spouse, nor fellowship with believers! What misery to be unable to admit that the “blessing of singleness,” at times, feels more like a curse!
We are not a people free of pain and sorrow, free of longing and desire, and we need not pretend otherwise. The inability to admit pain is sometimes more troubling than the pain itself. We confess our need and our longing. We end our prayer as David ended his, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.” (Psa. 13:5-6). He has been very good to me.
A while ago I wrote what I imagined as my conversation with God.
At Last … Honesty
God: “What’s the matter?”
Me: “I’m lonely!”
God: “I know! Don’t you think I know that?”
God: “Then what’s the problem?”
God: “What do you want?”
(Repressing the honest answer I speak:)
“I want what you want Lord.”
God: “You have it.”
God: “Something is still bothering you. What is it?”
God: “Why is that a problem?”
“I’m not happy.”
God: “And why not?”
“I don’t want to be alone.”
God: “You said you wanted what I wanted.”
God: “You have it.”
God: “Isn’t that what you wanted?”
(at last honesty)
God: “Then you do not want what I want?”
“I do, but I also want to be married. I also want what I want.”
God: “The problem is not your desire to be married. That is a good desire.
The problem is that you expect that I should give you
what you want when you want and how you want.
If a sparrow does not fall without my knowledge…
If I dress the lilies in such splendor…
If I clothe the grass of the field which so quickly withers…
Do you imagine I have forgotten you…my beloved?
I have not forgotten you…do not worry.”
God: “You are still troubled…why?”
God: (gently) “I know.”
The heart finds comfort in silence. God knows our pain, and our confessions of longing do not disturb Him. He knows and cares.
A confession of longing does not indicate a lack of faith, but it may. Within our longing sin may fester and, like children, we may stomp our feet, clench our fists, and demand what we want NOW! What we really want to know is that we are not alone, not forgotten; that we can trust God to bless us. What we really want to know is that, despite the cloud of unknowing that smothers us, there is a loving and knowing God who has not forsaken His children. Even more, we want to know that He has not simply blessed our friends and cursed us. Even here and now—He loves us. He loves us!
A confession of longing does not indicate a lack of faith, but it may. Growing and maturing mean that we look past the moment, past the now, and consider that reality is neither singular, nor local. We are part of a grand scheme. I do not pretend to understand it all or even some of it—but I know whom I serve. I know He loves me. I know He is working all things together for the good of THOSE who love Him; ALL those who love Him. I have no clue why my longing is unfulfilled, but one thing I do:
“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you” (Philippians 3:13-15).
In our confession of longing, we must maintain our faith. Yes, I pursue relationships and act in boldness when I am moved, but my working will never make for me a wife. I doubt that while I sleep tonight God will remove a rib and bring me a wife. Rather, I find peace in trusting Him. I trust Him to love me the way He sees fit, and this brings me peace. I strive to be the man HE wants me to be in order that I might please Him.
I will work diligently to know and love a wife someday, but I can neither manufacture nor speed this process. Believe me, I have tried. That He loves me, that He cares for me, and that He is working on my behalf is my peace. This is my pillow and firm, warm bed. It is my waking comfort and my daily salve. I am lonely, but “I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me” (Psalm 13:6).
Psalms 20:4, Psalms 40:8, Psalms 69:5, Psalms 139:1, Psalms 139:2, Proverbs 24:26, Isaiah 49:15, Luke 12:27-28
This article first published on Crosswalk.com, May 29, 2008.