Today’s blog contains a wonderful answer by EPM staffer, Karen Coleman, a veteran missionary to Cameroon who now works with us in Oregon.
The question came from a reader. Whether you’re single or married, her helpful response is well worth reading through.
Someone wrote EPM:
As a middle aged, never-married, Christian single with no kids, life is lonely. No matter how many people I try to befriend, my social circle necessarily shrinks over time. People marry. I move. Relationships change.
How will I fare in Heaven when surrounded by mostly large families where people have their kids, grandkids, many friends, a spouse, etc., and I'm alone?
There is a de facto caste system in the church today of: marrieds with children, remarried with children or blended, divorced with kids, divorced with no kids, and on the lowest “caste,” the dreaded single. It seems as though we’re always second class in the church.
How will singles not be treated as second rate and ostracized when surrounded by large families in eternity?
Here’s Karen’s reply:
Thanks for your thoughtful questions.
The de facto caste system that you mention cannot exist in Heaven. The sadness of loneliness cannot exist in Heaven. Randy believes what the Bible clearly teaches: that there will be ONE family and ONE marriage—with Christ as the Groom and all believers, His Church, as the Bride.
God has very happy plans for you on the New Earth, as Randy explains in his video, “Will our relationships we have now continue in Heaven?”:
“We’ll meet many new friends, people that we haven’t known in this life…you may not yet have met the closest friend you will have ever have, the closest brother or sister as part of the family of God may be somebody that you won’t meet until you’re sitting at a dinner table, with Christ who’s in charge of the seating arrangements in the New Heavens and the New Earth, and there’s this great banquet where people come from the East and West…”
Just imagine that! Christ knows you inside and out. He knows the loneliness you’ve experienced. He knows you don’t have family here. He will be your loving Father and you will be His beloved child. And He is planning happiness and laughter and friends for you that will amaze and delight you for all eternity! Trust Him for that, because it’s the truth.
Please take the time to watch this video, by Randy’s former research assistant Julia Stager. She starts talking about marriage, but at the end Julia addresses singleness and the very issues you raise.
As Julia states, “Singleness can be extremely painful. But it’s not eternal and it’s not wasted. Single people aren’t single because there’s something wrong with them, or because God has forgotten about them. This life…will never be ultimately satisfying, and that’s the way it should be. Whether married or single, what we all truly long for is the perfect marriage between Christ and His people.”
Here is another video by Julia about singleness that could be very pertinent.
I have now been single for about 2/3 of my 60 years. I’ve spent a lot of time meditating on 1 Corinthians 7:32-35:
“I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”
If anyone is second rate here (and I don’t believe that’s what Paul is saying), it is married people! I would encourage you to memorize those verses and spend time mulling them over and over in your mind. What does it really mean to “be anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord” and to have “undivided devotion to the Lord”? How could you use your singleness now to further God’s Kingdom?
I would also encourage you to find a good church with a home Bible study or Sunday school class that’s a mixture of marrieds and singles that accept both equally, encouraging growth and fellowship together.
You may already be doing this, so I don’t want to assume anything. But one help with loneliness is to volunteer places or look for ways to help others. There are so many lonely people, especially in care centers, for example, who would love to have someone to talk to. Perhaps God has given you extra time to reach out to others since you know what loneliness is like.
I don’t know if you like music, but here’s a song that has encouraged me when I’ve felt extreme loneliness, “He Knows” by Jeremy Camp.
How will you fare in Heaven? You will be eternally happy with more deep, true friends than you could ever count, part of God’s forever family, one of His well-loved children. I’m praying for you to really grasp the truth of the goodness that God has in store for you!