Written By Kristle Gangadeen, Trinidad and Tobago
“I’ll graduate university, get a good job and then get married by 24,” my friend predicted confidently, as a group of us chatted over lunch in our all-girl high school.
Another friend chimed in matter-of-factly, “It’ll be at 26 for me,” while another was sure that she and her future husband would have two children and a cute dog by the ripe old age of 30.
And me? I remember declaring that I would be happy with whatever age God provided a hubby. I just knew it would happen during my twenties. After all, in my vast 15 years of life experience, everybody got married by 30, at the latest.Spoiler alert: It hasn’t quite turned out that way for some of us.
Those dreamy-eyed, confident teenagers have become thirty-somethings with educations and careers our grandmothers’ generation could only dream about. But our dreams for families of our own have not gone according to our timelines.
Recently, one of my friends in her early thirties confessed that she was tired of waiting.“I don’t want to be the forty-year-old virgin,” she complained, half-jokingly.
My friend had been guarding her heart, pursuing purpose, serving in her community, and nurturing her relationships with family and friends. Yet it seemed like God was sleeping through the alarm of her biological clock.
My friend wondered if she really needed a godly husband. Perhaps a nice guy who treated her well would make a wonderful spouse and father.
I was not standing on any pulpit as I pleaded with my disillusioned friend to continue to trust God’s faithfulness and His timing.Heaven knows my twenties were riddled with terrible relationship decisions. I have the therapy bills to prove it.
But I am finally learning to trust God instead of taking matters into my own hands.
Are you worried that God has fallen asleep on your desires too? Let me tell you a story.
Many, many years ago, there was a woman named Hannah who grieved for a child of her own. We can only imagine Hannah’s pain when others teased her about her infertility. Year after year, Hannah took her request to God in earnest prayer, but it appeared that her cries fell on deaf ears. She did not conceive.
Hannah was inconsolable. She lost her appetite during her extended family’s annual visit to God’s tabernacle. Her husband loved her dearly, and asked her, “Why are you crying? Why won’t you eat? Don’t I mean more to you than 10 sons?” His words provided little consolation to Hannah, but she ate and returned to prayer.Hannah never gave up seeking the Lord. Though she faced years of disappointment, she continued to pray, hope, and trust in God.
During prayer one time, she even promised God that if He gave her a son, she would dedicate the child’s whole life to God.
And one day, when the time was right, the Lord gave Hannah the desire of her heart. She and her husband got busy and Hannah conceived. She was going to be a mummy!
Hannah honored the promise she made to God. After weaning the baby, she took him to the tabernacle to serve full time under a priest. That likely meant that Hannah only saw her son once a year when the family made their annual visit to the tabernacle.
Wait. What? Hannah begged and pleaded for a baby that she didn’t plan to raise for herself?
Yes! You read that right. Hannah offered her desire back to God for His purposes.
Hannah’s answered prayer turned out to be the mighty prophet Samuel, who served during the reigns of King Saul and King David.
God answered Hannah’s prayer, but He wasn’t done blessing her yet. Hannah went on to have five more children after Samuel.
You can read the entire story in 1 Samuel.
But what can we learn about ourselves, God, and His timing from this story?
Take It All to God
Year after year, Hannah cried out to God for a child. She took her tears, her pain, and her frustrations to Him. And He listened. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and He binds up their wounds. God sees our hearts and He hears our cries. He assures us that none of our tears falls unnoticed (Psalm 56:8).
Consider this an invitation for us to take our desires, hurts and frustrations to God in prayer. Prayer is simply talking to God—we can talk to Him as a trusted friend with whom we can be brutally honest about our feelings.
Be Patient and Faithful
Hannah never gave up. She didn’t stay home and say to herself, “God isn’t listening to me so forget Him!”
She continued to go with her family to the tabernacle to make their annual sacrifices. She did what the Lord required of her, even when she didn’t see any fruit or benefit.
We don’t have to wait until we get our dream job or get married or have children to live out purpose. We should be about our Father’s business, right now. He has invested different gifts and talents in each of us, so let us use them for His honor and glory.
Change Your Perspective
Let’s be real. Hannah’s husband was insensitive when he asked her if he wasn’t as good as 10 sons to her. But he had a point. Hannah had a husband who doted on her and blessed her.
Perhaps if Hannah would have focused on the blessings she had and thanking God for them, her spirit would not have been so grieved. After all, God calls us to be content and thankful in every situation (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
What has God blessed you with in this season? In past seasons? Count your blessings. You’ll quickly discover that God is a good, good Father and you’re very blessed.
Consider Your Motives
This blows my mind. Hannah asked for a baby so she could give the baby to God. After going through pregnancy, labor, and breastfeeding, Hannah was willing to send her toddler to the tabernacle. She wouldn’t hear the stories from his childish imagination as he played. She wouldn’t witness his milestones as he grew into a young man.Have you ever asked yourself, “Why do I want to get married or have a family?”
As we honestly reflect on this question, we may discover that we have a healthy desire for a God-honoring marriage. Like Hannah yielded Samuel to God, we would yield our marriage to God’s will and purpose.
Or we may realize that we’ve been dreaming about an exotic destination wedding more than the realities of married life post-honeymoon.
Maybe we’d realize that we want to get married because of family and societal expectations, or because we think that a spouse would cure our chronic loneliness.
Or we may even discover that while our desire for marriage started as a healthy, normal desire, it has become an idol—a path to our happiness or fulfillment. If the Holy Spirit convicts us as we reflect, let’s repent. We should not desire God’s good gifts more than the Gift Giver.
Trust God’s Timing
We aren’t told how many years Hannah prayed, but we can be sure that the timing of Samuel’s birth was according to God’s plan.
Whatever our desires, we can learn to surrender them to God: “Lord, this is what I want, but I trust that You know best. Take control and let Your will be done in my life.”
As our creator, God has the ultimate plan for our lives. When life does not go according to our plan, it is perfectly okay to share our disappointment with God.
But we can rest assured that although His plan may not always match ours, it is unmatched. Whatever His plan for our lives, we can be confident that God is working all things together for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
Friend, I can’t promise that God will fulfill your every desire according to your specifications, but He is a good, good Father. And when we submit our desires to Him, we can be confident that whatever He desires for us will be perfectly tailored for us, even if it doesn’t look the way we expect.