This week I have been meditating on those eighteen "silent years" from the time Jesus was found in the temple at age twelve until He began His public, earthly ministry at the age of thirty. The Scripture draws a curtain over those years telling us nothing except for the fact that Jesus worked in Joseph's carpentry business (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3).
One writer pointed out that Jesus spent six times longer working in a physical trade than He did in His public ministry. He sanctified work (including manual labor) and glorified His Father in heaven by working with His hands through all those years (perhaps supporting His mother and other family members after Joseph died).
This morning I've been contemplating another aspect of Jesus' adult life that I don't often hear mentioned—the fact that He remained single. Jesus never experienced the companionship of a wife. Through all the challenges of work and ministry, through all His testings and trials, He never knew the comfort, encouragement, and support that a mate might have provided. Likewise, He never knew the blessing of having children of His own.
Sure, He was God. But He was also fully human. He was a man. He had normal, human desires and longings. Scripture reminds us that in every respect He was "tempted as we are" (Hebrews 4:15). Yet He never sinned.
He did not make idols out of His longings. He did not allow natural desires to become demands. When He went to weddings, when He saw His friends and peers enjoying first the gift of marriage and then the gift of children, He did not give in to self-pity or resent God for withholding those gifts from Him.
He remained morally chaste and trusted His Father to meet His needs. He did not chafe at His "single status," but fully embraced and delighted in the will and calling of God for His life and all that it entailed.
For Jesus, embracing singleness was both an act of submission to the will of His Father as well as a selfless act of love for those He came to serve and save. He forfeited many of the normal, good pleasures that most people enjoy in order to redeem us from our sin.
He knew that His life on this earth would be short and that He would have all eternity to savor the fullness of joy and the pleasures to be found at the right hand of His Father (Ps. 16:11).
So, my fellow sisters to whom for this season (or longer) God has not granted the blessings of marriage and/or children, I want to encourage you to "consider him … so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted" (Hebrews 12:3). He knows the path you walk, for He has walked it before you.
Receive the love of your Father, embrace His will and His calling for this (and every) season of your life, let Him sustain you by His grace, trust Him for those unfulfilled longings, pour out your life for others, remember that this life is oh so short, and set your sights on that day when every tear will be dried and every hope and longing will be fulfilled as we are united with Christ, our beloved Bridegroom, for all eternity.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15–16).
Have you considered Jesus' "single" status before? How does it offer you hope in your season of life today?