EDITOR'S NOTE:  Each He Said-She Said column features a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view.  If you've got a question about anything related to singleness, please click here to submit (selected questions will be posted anonymously).

QUESTION:  I keep coming across Psalms 37:4 that says, "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."  I am 43, and I did not have the desire to be married until I accepted the Lord back in '05.  From that point on I have wanted to be in a Christian marriage with a God-fearing man.  I came to the conclusion that it was not God's will for me to be single, and I have asked him to make his desires for my life my desires and to take away the desires I have that aren't his will for me.  It's been two years since my last relationship, and I'm still single with that same desire for marriage—only it is stronger than before.  At what point will I know if this desire is from the Lord or my flesh?

HE SAID:  This is a great question and one many of us have probably pondered or asked ourselves at some point in our lives—"How do I know if the desires I have are from the Lord or from my flesh?"  I go to church, study my Bible, seek wise, godly counsel and pray, yet, at times, I still can't distinguish what the origin of my desire is.

As we search for answers, we can sometimes make the mistake of reading into a situation thinking it must be God's will since "it" hasn't happened yet. 

  • If God wanted me to be happy, I'd be happy.
  • If God's wish for me was to be healed, I'd be healed.
  • If God's desire for me was to be married, I'd be married.

Don't fall into the trap of living your life as negative "absolutes" (or the "Eeyore syndrome").  This is part of the enemy's plan to distract us, discourage us, and not live our lives focusing on the goodness of God.

In our search for a biblical perspective to this and other questions, we must be careful to always read a passage as written and in context.  Psalms 37:4 does not say, "He will bring you the desires of your heart so delight in the Lord," but rather, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."

It's easy to skip to the latter part of this verse since that's where the "good stuff" is—when WE receive the desires of our heart.  However, oftentimes we never get to that part because we are searching with the wrong wants and motives and not living for him.

Preceding and following Psalm 37:4, the Bible says, "Trust in the Lord and do good.  Then you will live safely in the land and prosper" (Psalms 37:3); "Commit everything you do to the Lord.  Trust him and he will help you." (Psalms 37:5).

These are conditional statements.  Trust and do, then… Commit, trust and (then) he will…. We must be obedient to his Word (period) and he will decide the rest. I used to read the Bible as a contractual partnership between me and God.  If I do this, then he will do what I want.  He (and "it") doesn't work like that. 

The Bible says we are to trust him, do good, delight ourselves in him, commit everything we do to him, then we will live safely and prosper, then he will bring you the desires of your heart, then he will help you.

When I look at my life and think, I'm not married, my response is not "God wants me to be single," but rather God wants me to still do something—I need to trust him more, I need to do more good, I need to commit more of what I do to him, I need to be more obedient, I need to learn something, maybe my future spouse needs to work on herself or God is protecting me from something at this time.

He has given me the desire to be married since I was young and I don't believe he gives a desire, takes it away and then maybe gives it back.  He is not a wishy-washy God.

I believe most Christians probably want what God wants for them, but often in their own time frame and as long as they have final approval.  However, if we learn to be more obedient, love him more, love others more, we will grow closer to understanding who he is and begin to discern what his desires are for us.

If we focus and live our life in order to delight in the Lord first (instead of ourselves), our desires will be in line with God's desires, which will be his unimaginable best for our life.

SHE SAID:  Finally.  An easy question to answer!  (Just kidding.  Really.)  This is a tough one, and I don't think you are alone in asking it.  I think many of us have wondered if a particular desire is from the Lord or is just something of our own making.

I believe that if we are seeking God's will for our lives, that he will shape our desires and direct our hearts toward what he wants us to yearn for, to be excited about or ultimately to do in our lives (Proverbs 3:5-6).  But when it comes to timing, it's a bit of a mystery, isn't it?  God works in ways that are many times not expected and other times are just not very understandable at all to you and I (or to our family or friends who may be praying right along with us for whatever we are desirous of in our lives).

When I think of someone in the Bible who greatly desired something and prayed and waited and waited and waited, I immediately think of Hannah (1 Samuel 1).  In this case, while her desire was not for marriage but for a child, I think we can still learn from her example.

What made Hannah's circumstances difficult was the fact that her husband Elkanah was married not only to Hannah but to Peninnah—and Penninah had children, while Hannah had none.  I am sure this must have been frustrating for Hannah to see a picture of motherhood right in front of her day after day after day.  Also, the Bible tells us that Penninah "kept provoking her in order to irritate her."  So, imagine that, if you will.  What if you had a close girlfriend (or a sister or another female relative) who had recently gotten married and not so kindly kept reminding you of the fact that she is married and you are not?  How would you feel?  Would you be disheartened?  Would you give up?

Hannah's suffering at the hand of her rival continued, year after year.  Her husband even tried to comfort her.  "Hannah, why are you weeping?  Why don't you eat?  Why are you downhearted?  Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?"  We also read how Hannah poured out her heart to the Lord in the temple.  And then later, we see that Hannah did conceive and gave birth to a son named Samuel whom she dedicated to the Lord (just as she had promised she would do).

So what can we, as singles, take away from Hannah?