There are many reasons for someone to be single.

Perhaps the standards we seek of our ideal partner might be too high: Maybe you’re holding out for an adventurous woman who is beautiful, yet with the inner beauty of biblical Ruth, or a God-fearing man whose features are worthy of the cover of Men’s Health magazine.

Maybe nobody in your circle of friends or influence appears a good fit. Perhaps you are always hanging out with people much younger/older than you. Or none of them are of the same faith. Or they are, but you can’t find the middle ground on some doctrinal beliefs.

Perhaps you are single now because you are so tired and worn out from past rejections.

I am about a month away from my 30th birthday as I write this, and I have experienced practically all of the above. Too many times have I received the all-too-familiar question from well-meaning friends and not-so-distant family members: “Why don’t you have a girlfriend’?”, or “Isn’t there anybody you’re interested in?”

While these are well-meaning questions, they sometimes cause a certain profound hurt to surface in my heart. I can definitely say I am not intentionally single.

I’ve had crushes on numerous women in the past decade, and the closest thing I have ever come to a relationship was an official “exploration” with a girl in church – essentially just us getting to know each other better as friends. We never even held hands. Needless to say, it didn’t work out; it was a car wreck due to selfishness on my part.

The yearning led to disappointment, the disappointment to self-condemnation, the self-condemnation to anger. Yes, I was angry with God.

I’ve found almost every other girl I’ve been interested in in church has been practically unapproachable. Being in an Asian society, it really isn’t easy to get to know a person of the opposite gender without raising a red flag that screams that you’re interested in them.

My two older siblings already have families of their own (with two and three kids, respectively), and here I am, single and with nary a past-relationship to even ponder upon. It hurts. It really does.

I often ask God why. I wish I had the answer.

Those of us who are single, or who have been (and that means all of you), have definitely asked this question at some point. How we yearn for somebody to care for, to share the joys and sufferings of life together. We all want to be desired, to be admired and loved not just by anybody, but by somebody we ourselves desire after.

This yearning in me grew over the years. The yearning led to disappointment, the disappointment to self-condemnation. Perhaps I’m just not attractive enough. As hard as I tried to improve on my character and personality, I never could seem to compete with that other good-looking, mild-mannered guy in that other life group.

Self-condemnation eventually led to anger. Yes, I was angry with God. Why wouldn’t He, in all His sovereign power and loving grace, answer my simple prayer for a wife?

This cycle of emotions repeated itself numerous times, more than I’d want to remember.

To me – as I’m sure it does to many of you – having a partner to love and live life with appears the best thing that could ever happen. And, by extension, not being attached feels the worst thing; it means we are not attractive. Undesirable.

But good as it is, there is a better thing than mere human companionship.

Nothing trumps the fact that God loves us, so much in fact that He died for us even while we were His enemies (Ephesians 2:4-5)! We are loved and desired by the greatest being in the universe – and here we are bemoaning our singlehood.

I’m not undermining our desire for a physical companion. However, isn’t it comforting to know that there is more to love than just earthly companionship and marriage? Scripture reminds us that the institution of marriage is temporary (Matthew 22:30).

Obedience to Christ and holding fast to His covenant will not go unnoticed.

So if we’re not fixated on marriage as the end-goal of our existence – which it surely isn’t! – what is the hope that is held out for those of us who are single?

“Thus says the Lord: ‘To the eunuchs [those who cannot procreate but turn their lives into a unique service instead of marriage] who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.'” (Isaiah 56:4-7)

That is the hope we have: The promise of an everlasting name better than sons and daughters!

What does that mean? I can only imagine! But what I do know about it is that it is better. Better than anything I could imagine in my limited human mind. It is something no earthly marriage can attain. It encourages me that obedience to Christ and holding fast to His covenant will not go unnoticed.

The focus of our lives should be to honour Christ, and the institute of human marriage is meant as a picture of what the marriage between Christ and His bride, the church, is like. But why yearn merely for a reflection when the real thing awaits? Why seek the temporary promise of an earthly marriage, when we can look forward to what is eternal?

Consider the example of Paul, who appears not to have been married during his time writing epistles as the apostle to the Gentiles. In 1 Corinthians 4:15 he writes about how he is as a father to those he watches over, while in 1 Thessalonians 2:7 he says he cherishes them as a mother.

Similarly, I may not have a physical family to raise, but the Lord has graciously given me a spiritual family to look after. It is through His grace enabling me to overcome my struggles in life that God will speak and build people up for His glory.

Yearn and desire for God’s will to be done in your life, even if it means that you will be single for the rest of your life. It may not sound like the best option to us, but the Lord has a greater promise for you, and He will honour your faithfulness to Him.

And that is infinitely, eternally greater than we can hope for from a temporary marriage in this temporary life.