Seven Thousand Men

On Mondays, we fast and pray for men and women to more boldly and faithfully show forth God’s image in relation to one another, and for marriages to those who desire them.

At a recent family baby shower, one of my lovely cousins (who has 5 kids!) was telling me that she looks forward to someday meeting my future spouse. I laughed and said, “ME TOO!” On one hand, I was so happy to feel emotionally stable and not-defensive at a baby shower and in a conversation about singleness. That itself is huge evidence of God’s grace in my heart and life! (Granted, I’ll probably be sobbing on my floor later in the week for something completely inconsequential, but I’ll take the stability as today’s gift.).

Yet on the other hand, a dark voice in the deep of my heart says…“There is no such man. You’ve seen you. You’ve seen the options. You’ve seen the culture. You know it’s impossible.”

All three of those categories give me pause. Yes, I know my own junk: the broken patterns of my past and present, the lonely, empty places sometimes filled by sinful relational choices, the lack of love for others, the deep-rooted anxiety and unseen expectations. I know the Lord is at work in all those areas…but I also know I can be a relational tornado, which makes me afraid that marrying a godly man will somehow be harder.

Secondly, I’ve seen the options. I’ve seen some friends’ promising relationships recently end in disappointment. I’ve got my own tragic dating track record. I don’t see any quickly apparent pool of godly men who want to date/get married. And even though I live in an urban area which is technically full of single adults, I can’t really say that I see the caliber or quantity of godly men to give me much external hope that marriage is a possibility.

And then there’s the culture…add all that into the context of cultural decay around gender/marriage/children, the cancer of pornographic images and words, and confusion about the purpose and gift of human sexuality (including its celibate forms), and perhaps an overarching loss of relational hope (h/t to Dale Keuhne on that front).

Yikes. It’s enough to make me cry, eat salted caramel chocolates and/or crawl under a rock and hide.

And that’s why I love 1 Kings 19. Elijah is just great. After a major win against Ahab and his false idols, he is terrified by Jezebel and runs into the wilderness. Elijah is having such a terrible day that he sits down under a lone tree and asks to die (verse 4): It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.

Instead, God comes and initiates a conversation with Elijah, and asks him what is wrong. Elijah (my translation): “Look, it’s pretty much just me at this point. I’m trying to do what is right because I believe you. But the rest of your stupid people have seriously destroyed everything, and now they’re looking to kill me too. Did I mention that I’M THE ONLY ONE LEFT? Yep. Me. That’s it, God. Just me.”

Honestly, some of me can identity with Elijah. I feel like I’m the only one looking at the disaster zone of my heart, the lack of men, and the disintegrating culture. It can feel like no one cares what it means to live a counter-cultural life as a celibate, believing single adult. I feel like I’m the only one left (in lots of ways) and, sometimes, I want to sit down under a tree and cry too.

Thankfully, God is still God. He doesn’t quash Elijah’s original complaint but instead cares for him in three ways:

  • God brings food for Elijah (verse 5, 7): God twice sends an angel to provide for Elijah’s physical needs because He says the journey is too great for you. He sends Elijah the needed provision for the next task immediately ahead of Elijah. That is an incredible encouragement to me. God knows what is in front of me, and He sends the fuel I need for the next step.
  • God speaks to Elijah in unexpected ways (verses 9-14): After feeding Elijah, God sends him on 40-day journey, and then asks Elijah to tell Him his complaint. And He responds in the quietest, least predictable manner….sound familiar? God is not what we expect, does not operate how we expect, and is not always where we expect…and yet, He’s there and He’s listening and responding. That is comfort to my soul.
  • God has things we can’t see (verse 18): This is the original verse that God brought to my mind on a particular day that I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of cultural brokenness. I despaired that there were absolutely no godly, single men anywhere. And this verse came to mind: Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him. 

NB: Baal was that era’s pagan fertility god who was worshiped with sexual orgies and temple prostitution.) So Elijah had no idea that God had kept thousands of God-fearing Israelites who hadn’t bowed to the pressure of the culture’s sexual practices. I don’t want to take the verse out of context, but I think it is safe to say that God has His people stashed where we might least expect them. When it looks like all hope is dashed, this is a constant reminder to me of God’s prerogative and ability to guide His people…and I’d like to think that can include to marriage, if that is His will.

So when that dark voice in my heart tells me the horizon is too dark and there’s no one left, I instead want to listen to the still, small voice that speaks truth and directs my steps.

Praying with you and for you,

Amy

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12 Responses to Seven Thousand Men

  1. Katy says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I am a married gal, but still follow this blog regularly and pray for you ladies! These posts always provide me hope and encouragement to keep praying for the godly men and women I know to find wonderful spouses and survive these lonely times. They also provide encouragement in my own life as well. My husband and I recently had a miscarriage. And as painful as it is to lose a baby, my biggest struggle is not the grief, but the fear — will this happen again? Am I broken? Is it worth trying for another child? I have been drawn to statistics and articles about helping prevent this. When a statistic is good, I am hopeful, when it is bad, I am heartbroken.

    This lent, I have decided to give up statistics. I realize that statistics can’t completely be avoided as they are everywhere. But, when it comes to statistics that give me grief for myself or others- singleness statistics, pregnancy statistics, divorce statistics, i want to put those aside for the next 6 weeks and turn my hope, faith and worship to a God that is bigger than statistics. I want to strive to ignore the dark voice of statistics and worship the God who speaks truth. It’s a hard pattern to break as I have caught myself dwelling on statistics already, 2 days in!

    Praying for you ladies! Cling to the One who is bigger than dark fears, statistics and circumstances!

    • fast. pray. says:

      so so glad it was encouraging in a hard season…we grieve with you over your loss, and commit to looking toward hope with you.

      and i love love love your idea of fasting from statistics! that is such a great way to have lent be a season of more diligently leaning into God’s sufficiency. i definitely know that feeling and i know what it is to put my faith/weight into “facts” instead of God himself…thank you so much for sharing 🙂

  2. M says:

    Thank you for this. I’m at the stage where I feel there’s no hope anymore. No christian men in sight and no opportunity to meet people. I’ve stopped praying the past few months because I feel like a broken record that’s been playing for years.

  3. travelbugbit says:

    Amy, thank you for this post. It spoke to me loudly, not so much about men ( I am currently in a serious relationship for 2 years) but your verses from 1kings – he provides for our physical needs and nothing beyond what we need. Good to be reminded of His sovereignty and victory over everything that I try to control every day.

  4. smvernalis says:

    Amy, such thoughtful and beautiful words, as always.

  5. May says:

    Wow. You ladies at fastpray are amazing. I thank the Lord for you. I appreciate your honesty. I can relate to so many of your posts. I’m praying for God to bless us with godly marriages and that we will not lose faith as we wait. God is good!

  6. Julie says:

    Wow…how timely! Just yesterday at Adoration, I was asking God to send me a husband particularly because “the culture is so dark and so corrupt, and I can’t do this on my own.” The loneliness of being single is definitely made more intense by the loneliness of being VIRTUOUS….which is sad. But I was reminded by Him that WE are the light, WE are the Church Militant, and we should not be afraid. He is with us, and if we run and hide (like we sometimes feel tempted to do), we are not doing what He is calling us to do, even now, as singles. As baptized Christians, we are the light of the world, single or not! Hopefully the virtuous single men will also be brave enough to “let their light shine”, and who knows, maybe we will run into our husbands….on the battlefield. God bless you all! In His Love, Julie

    • fast. pray. says:

      Love this – thank you, Julie! And I agree…hiding is not our calling when there is a battle going on. And praying that you are encouraged in this season, and praying for that battle-tested husband as well 🙂

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