Kelly Carr

Stranger in a Strange Land

Kelly Carr
Stranger in a Strange Land

by Nicole Pramik

Being an older Christian single can make one feel like a stranger in a strange land. I wish I could say I can’t relate but, unfortunately, I can.

Comfort can be hard to come by for 30-something single ladies like me—who desire marriage while that dream seems to indefinitely remain out of reach. Yet when despondency gets a bit much to bear, I often turn to Scripture for encouragement from some of the women for whom God did the impossible. Sarah, Hannah, and Elizabeth all had an impossible dream to become mothers, and Ruth was a foreign widow in a foreign land with no prospects. While each of these women were strangers navigating the strange lands of childlessness and singlehood, respectively, their stories possess a similar thread—God does the impossible when all seems barren and lost.

Dormant Seed

Sarah, Hannah, and Elizabeth might have been separated by time, but their hearts’ desires for children connect them. While I wait to pass the first milestone to parenthood (getting married), I still find comfort in their journeys, not only in how their stories were resolved but also through their struggles.

I have, at times, relinquished my hope
of ever marrying.

I imagined that at least by my 30s I would be entering the dating scene, yet my love life remains nonexistent. I have, at times, relinquished my hope of ever marrying—as each birthday passes, more candles get added to the cake than prospects enter my life. Similarly, I imagine that as each year and decade passed, Sarah (Genesis 17:17) and Elizabeth (Luke 1:7), who were well past their childbearing years, may have relinquished their once vibrant hopes. I, too, catch myself doing the same when it comes to my dream for marriage.

While we’re never told how old Hannah was, no doubt her frustrations were similar. The Bible tells us that her childlessness was a matter of great distress for her, so much so that she experienced depression (1 Samuel 1:3-7). Scripture never says that these women allowed their desires to become an idol. Instead, it was a dream that perhaps they felt had been deeply implanted in their hearts yet, for whatever reason, the seed remained dormant.

Imperfect Circumstances

The stories of Sarah, Hannah, and Elizabeth’s don’t end with any of them being told to get over it, give up hope, or simply grin and bear it. Each one was blessed with a child in God’s timing. However, their dream, which was ultimately realized, didn’t arise out of perfect circumstances:

  • Sarah initially took matters into her own hands, believing that God meant to give her and Abraham a child through Hagar, her servant, instead (Genesis 16:1-2).
  • Hannah allowed her husband’s second, more fertile wife to become a source of torment for her (1 Samuel 1:6-7).
  • Elizabeth’s husband, Zechariah, refused to believe Gabriel’s message that they would become parents and was forced to remain mute until their son, John, was born (Luke 1:5-25).

In each of these women’s lives, I see a little bit of myself. Like Sarah, I have felt that I needed to help God out, especially whenever I feel like I’m not “doing enough” to meet eligible men. Like Hannah, I have been driven to depression as I look around and compare my life to the lives of others and wonder why my timetable seems to be progressing so slowly. And like Elizabeth and Zechariah, I have assumed that if I haven’t met a godly husband yet, then I apparently never will.

Luckily, God didn’t allow these women to remain chained to their circumstances. He performed the impossible when all of their resources had been exhausted.

Commonplace Happenstances

Ruth falls among these women’s company, though her story is a little different. She was a stranger in a strange land, not only literally but figuratively as she traversed the lands of singleness and widowhood. Just as I’m sure Ruth felt powerless to control her life, I often feel like my circumstances are beyond my control. Yes, I can choose to not be a hermit. Yes, I can befriend good men whenever one crosses my path. But I feel like that is not enough and that everything, from my age to my infinitesimally small social circle, is working against me. I sometimes sense there must be something more I can do, some avenue I haven’t yet ventured down, that will finally open the door from singleness to marriage. Yet for now that door remains shut and firmly locked.

Her life displays God’s promise
to give us hope and a future.

Perhaps Ruth felt the same. Though she lived with her mother-in-law, Naomi, Ruth’s social circle was probably small. She carried out a mundane routine and dwelled in a land full of empty dreams and even emptier prospects (Ruth 1:22). Yet, as impossible as all of it seemed, God worked through some coincidental events. Ruth “just happened” to glean in Boaz’s field (Ruth 2:3). Boaz “just happened” to notice her, engage her in conversation, and urge her to continue gleaning in his field (Ruth 2:5-15). He also “just happened” to be in Naomi’s family line and was the best fit to serve as Ruth’s husband (Ruth 4:1-11).

These seemingly commonplace happenstances were fertile ground in which God was able to work, and it is undeniable that Ruth’s life displays God’s promise to give us hope and a future. In her case, her immediate future held marriage and security, but in the bigger picture she became a part of Jesus’ family tree.

Thus, just as I can see myself through Ruth as the resource and prospect-deprived single woman, I can also glean hope. Like her, even though I don’t see God actively working, there is no situation too hopeless or devoid of possibilities. He can make miracles happen through the feeblest of resources and the most pedestrian of situations.

Extended Singleness

So through it all, I choose to wait. It is not easy to traverse this strange land of extended singleness. But by looking at how God has guided some of the most noted women of the Bible, I know He will guide me through this strange land as well. And this wait, just as it was for Sarah, Hannah, Ruth, and Elizabeth, will be worth it in the end.

posted on February 27, 2018

 

Meet the Author:

Nicole Pramik is a speculative fiction writer from Kentucky (though she is originally from Texas). Her works include The Guardian Trilogy, a fantasy series, and A Modern Apocrypha, a poetry collection. She has also served as a contributor for various volumes analyzing facets of popular culture with a philosophical slant, from SpongeBob SquarePants, to the films of Tim Burton, to Star Trek. She holds an MA in English (Creative Writing) from Marshall University and is a former English and Humanities adjunct professor. She is a self-proclaimed geeky bookworm who has fun with flags (technically known as vexillology) and harbors a love for EDM and curling. Currently, she is working on several speculative fiction manuscripts and hopes to see them in print someday. You can follow her on GoodReads.

 

 

Photo by Yaoqi LAI on Unsplash