Passion of Hope: The Real Via Dolorosa

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines hope as a desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment. And this is exactly what I had: a desire to get married. A hope to meet someone I would connect with and to get married.  I had this hope all through my twenties, my thirties, and my forties.

By my mid-thirties, however, this desire no longer felt like hope. It had begun to feel like despair. People around me at the time would say that I was overreacting, that I was making too much of it, that I had a good job. Of course, these were people that were married, had children (and good jobs!) Looking back, part of me thinks that people just didn’t know what type of counsel to give to someone who is older and in a state of prolonged singleness. 

This desire no longer felt like hope. It had begun to feel like despair.

On the other hand, I can now say with certainty that it was natural to have the desire to marry and reasonable to become so blue when it did not come along naturally. Proverbs 13:12 states that, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” I think marriage has taken such a backseat to so many things in our society. Many cannot understand why someone would be anxious or troubled if they find themselves in a state of prolonged singleness.

The common advice given when I was single was that “you need to be content” or “stop looking and it will just happen” or “God is your husband/spouse.”  In doing some research for this blog, I found that some of these unhelpful words are still being said to singles today.  I am here to tell you, do not stop desiring a spouse.  It is a God-given desire.  I believe God wants to answer this for you in accordance with his will for your life.

For those of you who have not done so already, please read the book of Tobit.  Yes, it is in the Catholic bible! There was a woman named Sarah.  She had been married 7 times and was widowed 7 times.  This was because each of her husbands died on their wedding night before the marriage could be consummated.  Sarah was beside herself, to say the least. She prayed about her situation to God.  

Now, let’s imagine that this situation was taking place today. Sarah still desires a husband.  What advice would be given to her? “You need to be content being single.” “You had 7 chances to be married and all 7 men died on the wedding night.” “You need to let God be your husband.” 

However, God heard Sarah and saw her plight. God knew she was struggling with singleness and the desire to be married. So, what did he do? God dispatched the Archangel Raphael to assist with the problem. God didn’t leave Sarah in her state of prolonged singleness. Sarah ends up getting married. God didn’t bring her a really great job in place of a spouse (not that she couldn’t have both). He brought Sarah a spouse.

All of us must pick up our cross and carry it in order to follow Christ.  For some of us, this cross comes in the form of a Via Dolorosa known as prolonged singlehood. Our obligation in this long, but temporary state is to truly seek the Lord and do everything we can do to get to marriage. 

The word “passion” is often used to describe strong emotions. For example, when 2 people are in love with each other, people may say they are passionate about each other. If someone feels strongly about a certain issue, he or she has a passion for said cause. 

Passion is also used to describe suffering. When we speak of Jesus’s crucifixion, we often say “his passion.” At Easter time, we may attend a passion play. The Latin word “pati/passio” means “to suffer.” It is where the word passion comes from. 

The Latin word “pati/passio” means “to suffer.”

Those who must suffer experience their own passion. The state of prolonged singleness is a suffering, a passion. But there is a second trial present here, as well: remaining hopeful that God will help your desire to be married to be fulfilled. Now, this is a struggle and a suffering. This is the passion of hope.

This is also part of the cross we must pick up and carry.  Having carried this same cross into my early forties, I know how heavy it can be. I would have hope for some time, and then it would be dashed by some event, circumstance or length of time passed.  I would then have to scour around and find some glimmer of hope to sustain myself for the journey. I was so afraid and uncertain as to what God’s will was about providing a spouse.  This made it especially difficult to believe, trust, and have faith. All the essential ingredients that help one endure amid suffering.

Romans 15:13 promises, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Having now been married since 2011, I have gone through the struggle and come out on the other side.  Not only regarding getting married, but to truly finding the God of hope. Now, I am here to cheer and encourage you regarding seeking God’s will for providing a spouse and for your own passion of hope.   

By Julieanne M. Bartlett All Rights Reserved Copyright 2020

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