Patience for Marriage

Don't Build a Habit of Miniature Marriages and Miniature Divorces

God invented marriage. It was 100% His idea. Doing it His way is vital to success. Doing it in His timing is almost as important. Even if you are a strong Christian and find a great Christian to marry, you can rush the process and do much damage.

Imagine a young child who had never had swimming lessons. If his first experience with swimming is in the stormy ocean the child might be scarred for life, even if he survives the swim. He might be terrified to swim for the rest of his life. This can happen if you jump into marriage too quickly as well.

Don't Complain

When God first made Adam, Eve had not been made yet. Adam was alone. We don't know how long this situation lasted. We do know there's no record of Adam ever complaining. He trusted God. He trusted His plans and timing. Do we?

Waiting on God's timing in any area, but especially in the area of dating, can be extremely difficult. There's much to learn from the Genesis account to aid us in this task. First, don't complain.

Don't complain about your lack of dates to other friends but don't complain to God either. I do not mean that we have to be stoic and act as though we do not care. There is certainly a godly way to be lonely. There's a godly way to be dissatisfied. And if we feel that way we should be honest about it.

You don't have to share your deepest pain with a stranger on the street. But you should share it with your closest friends and certainly with God. Philippians 4:6 teaches us literally to pray about all things. In fact, honest prayer is one of the best remedies for sinful complaining and worrying.

What's the Difference?

What's the difference between righteous, honest venting and sinful complaining? For now, let's just focus on talking to God rather than talking to other people. But some of the same principles will apply to human conversations as well. For example, it's never sin to be honest.

So, if you are desperate to be married and haven't had a date in a year, tell God how you feel. Be honest. Even if there is sin in your heart, He knows it is there. You might as well talk about it. Often times the best way to remedy a complaining and an angry heart is to pour it out to God and let Him comfort you.

Righteous venting involves being honest about our dissatisfaction with our circumstances. But it does not ruin our trust in God. You might pray like this: "Father, I really want to have a date. It's been so long. But I trust you. I trust your timing. It's hard. But I am not angry. I know you have good plans for me. Help my heart stay content in your ways and means."

Sinful complaining doesn't really trust God. It moves from dissatisfaction into anger and despair. "This isn't right! It's not fair! You owe me better! Where are you? Why won't you hear me and answer and give me what I want? Don't you even care?" At its root is a foundation of a demanding and deserving spirit. It forgets that God owes us nothing but wrath. In His grace, He chooses to give us many good gifts, such as marriage.

What's amazing in Genesis 2 is that Adam never complained. He never said "There's a boy and girl rhino and a boy and girl gorilla but I don't have a girl! This isn't fair! What did I do to deserve this? What's wrong with you God?!"

He was silent. He trusted. God was the one who said it wasn't good for man to be alone. This is still one of the most amazing verses in the whole Bible to me. There's a part of me that still half expects God to say "Man is alone in the world but He has me. He can have a 24 hour Bible study with me every day. What more does He want or need?"

God is a generous and lavish God who loves to give good gifts to His kids. He had a wonderful surprise for Adam. Adam patiently waited. God said "Adam, take a nap. When you wake up, I've got a huge surprise for you." Adam woke up very happy. Mankind has never been the same since.

God wanted Adam to have a peer, a best friend, an equal to run the world with. God's plans are better than our plans. God's timing is always better than ours. In this area of dating, we often feel like God is too slow in His provision for us. We could read Genesis 2 and wonder why God didn't make Adam and Eve at exactly the same time. Maybe God was preparing us to learn how to wait, to be patient with Him.

So much of godliness is about patience and contentment. It's about trusting God's wisdom over your own. So much of this is fleshed out in timing. How do you do with waiting for things in life that you really want? I don't do so well. God's never in a hurry. I always feel like I'm in a hurry.

Whether you are an 18-year-old single guy with an out of control sex drive, a 30-year-old lonely woman longing for marriage, or a widower wanting a second marriage the answer is the same. Trust God. Trust His plan and timing for your life.

Wait for the Right Time to Start

One practical application from this is to not get into a serious committed dating relationship until you are seriously ready to move towards marriage. It is fine to go on dates with people of younger ages. It is unwise to get into an intense one to one relationship when marriage is not even a hypothetical possibility on the horizon. This is one reason most high school relationships are so fraught with danger.

What if you start dating as a 16-year-old and fall in love. Then what? You are years away from marriage. You are setting yourself up for a lot of sexual temptation and emotional heartache as you wait. And usually, you aren't mature enough to think wisely about marriage yet.

In general, it is best not to get into committed relationships until it's a real possibility that you could leave your parents soon and be married. This has to do with physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and financial maturity. Some of those may be subjective and hard to define. But some are clear. Physical maturity is pretty clear. A three-year-old isn't ready for marriage physically.

Financial maturity may be the next clearest. Especially for the man. Ideally, he needs to at least have a job in sight. He needs to be prepared to care for and provide for a wife.

When a man comes to ask for my daughter's hand in marriage. There'll be three main things that I will want to know about him. First, how much does he know and love Jesus? Second, how much does he know and love my daughter? Third, does he have a job and can he provide?

Waiting until the right time to start seriously dating is an important factor in this process. Otherwise what happens is that we get into a pattern of miniature marriages and miniature divorces. We ‘fall in love,' date for 6 months then ‘fall out of love,' and break up. We wait a year and then rebound.

This time we date for a year but again we eventually break up. This time we grow closer so the break up was harder. Do you see what's happening?

We are training ourselves to make miniature commitments relationally and then break them when it gets hard. Marriage will feel like just the next step in increasingly committed relationships. When it gets hard, you'll just break up. Only this time, it will involve lawyers.

Conclusion

This is ultimately about trust. The deepest root of all of our sin is doubting God's goodness. It is some form of unbelief in the promises and character of God.

All righteousness starts with true faith. The best example of all time is the Lord Jesus Christ. Think about Him in the garden of Gethsemane.

He knew the plan of salvation before He came to earth. But as a human staring at the idea of drinking hell for His people, He began to tremble. He looked desperately for any legitimate way out.

He said He was sorrowful to the point of death. He never sinned. But however close you can come to fear and worry and not sin, He was there.

His potential fear was much worse than ours. We face being cut off from our favorite guy or girl. He faced being cut off from His Father with Whom He'd had eternal perfect fellowship.

How did He persevere and fight and obey and never give into worry? He prayed. "Father, if there's any other way. But not My will but Thine." This is the essence of true faith. I trust you even if you're killing me.

We may do this in the short run, but what about when the wait goes on for months and years and seems unending. How can we be patient and still wait and trust God? Adam had it easy in paradise. We're in this sinful, fallen, broken world. But so was Christ.

He willingly came here to suffer for us. The greatest suffering was when He was on the cross and the Father poured His wrath out on Him. The Father turned His face of blessing away.

The Lord Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?!" He didn't even call Him Father because He was not experiencing Him as Father at that point. He was experiencing Him as the angry Judge you and I deserve to meet.

There's no indication Christ knew how long His agony on the cross would last. Maybe that waiting and not knowing is what drove Him to scream out in such agony. Even worse, there was no answer from above. Christ hung His head and died in our place.

When you are tired, frustrated and sick of waiting on God to come through for you remember: He already has come through for you in the biggest way in Christ on the cross. Christ is not just our example of a patient sufferer. He is much more. He is the Savior of our soul when we trust in Him.

If we are trusting Christ to take care of your biggest need (getting you out of eternal damnation), shouldn't we be able to trust Him with all our much smaller needs; including the ‘need' for a date and for a mate. We must learn to pray "Not my will but Thine. Not my timing, but Yours."

Look away from your own wisdom and intuition. Look to God's history of providing for you. Look most importantly at His eternal provision of the cross. Rest. Trust. Obey. Wait patiently. Be content. Don't complain.

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