Back to Top

God Who Sees

“You don’t know what it’s like to be single at 39.” Words I never expected to utter more than once in the last few weeks. I never want to sound bitter, much less be bitter. I aspire to be the person who self-reflects, owns mistakes, forgives, heals, and continues to have faith and hope.

But as a single person, who continues to work through scars, I do have my moments. What caused those words to come up like vomit? (I won’t apologize for the Mean Girls reference.) One was an Instagram reel about Hagar and her suffering. In the clip, as the Bible teacher is expounding on Genesis 16 and delving into Hagar’s background, she takes a detour to make a point to single women. She likened Sarai’s decision to have Hagar sleep with Abraham to have a child (since Sarai was barren) to single women waiting for a husband, taking matters into their own hands borrowing strategies from the world, and compromising. 

I was surprised the clip invoked the emotions it did in me, and I was surprised the clip came from the person it did. 

At my old job whenever we entered into tough conversations and open dialogue, we’d have “norms’ or guidelines to help in the conversation. One of my favorites was to say “ouch” when something bothered you or struck a pain point. As I said “You don’t know what it’s like to be single at 39,” I could’ve preceded every time with an “ouch," as it is a pain point each time. 

Normally I don’t share my pain points so openly BUT I think this pain point is one I have in common with many other Christian single women my age and older. C.S. Lewis said “Friendship…is born at the moment when one man says to another What! You too?” 

I feel I can relate to Sarai in a way the speaker hasn’t because of how long I’ve waited.

At 39 and a virgin, I am deeply acquainted with waiting. I don’t know a lot of people who’ve waited for things as long as Sarai and Abram, and that includes me though I feel like I’m coming up close! I can guess like me, they never intended to wait as long as they did. Waiting has brought temptation, doubt, and questions. It has uncovered what’s in my heart. I feel I can relate to Sarai in a way the speaker hasn’t because of how long I’ve waited.

I imagine some of the questions Sarai might have thought with each year that passed: Maybe I’m not the barren one? Is it Abram? Did I mess this up? Did we do something that messed it up? Maybe Abram misheard God? When Abram chose me, did he marry the right person? Did God forget about us? Maybe I should do something about it? Is God waiting on me? Why is Hagar blessed but not me?

I’ve asked myself similar questions: Why are others blessed with a partner and not me? Did I mess up my chances? What should I be doing differently? Is marriage even for me? 

I am not a man, and won’t even venture into what Abram might have been thinking. We do see Abram believing God would deliver on his promise when it is first told to him but then it gets a little quiet. Time passes. Then more time passes. And Abram goes along with Sarai’s plan, to have Hagar, her maidservant, sleep with Abram so that maybe Hagar would give Abram an heir. 

For me, the clip minimized Sarai’s pain of waiting and the pain single women can face. I didn’t disagree with what she said but partly the how and partly the who. The preacher, who’d been married in her 20s and currently has 4 kids, may not understand what infertility is like, or what it is to be a single Christian for a long time.  She doesn’t have the same perspective. I don’t say this to disregard the message or the speaker but to note that as it wasn’t for me, there may also be others who felt the same. What happens next? 

As a 16-year-old who preached her first sermon at church to people twice and triple my age, there were a lot of things I ‘knew’, that I now cringe over. Many people and places I judged that I have much more grace for and I continue to ask for more. Understanding I have the same propensity for failure as others I’ve judged.  

I humbly offer a different path than what was offered in the clip–God’s response to our frailty and humanity. Even if Sarai’s plan wasn’t a part of God’s will, it’s still possible she acted in faith. I like the way author, Kat Armas put it recently:

The way God’s will was presented to me in most evangelical circles, it always felt as if our wills–mine and God’s–were always at odds…But as I read narratives in Scripture, I notice that God isn’t ever at war with God’s people as some sort of battle of the wills. Narratives in Scripture don’t pit God’s agency against ours…Instead, story after story details a sacred dance between divine activity and human response—human activity and divine response.

God honors Sarai even though it blew up in her face. She used and then tried to discard Hagar, but God still blesses her, and she’s even mentioned in the “Hall of Faith” (Hebrews 11). God honors Hagar too, and comes to her aid. God’s plan can prevail despite our doubts, temptations, and mistakes in the waiting. 

May we have more grace for one another, and ourselves as we discern his will in the waiting. May we seek out different perspectives while listening, and may we trust God’s timing and sovereignty even amid our weaknesses. For just as he told Hagar, He is the God who sees.


The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

In order to steward ministry shares well, commenting isn’t available on Do Justice itself because we engage with comments and dialogue in other spaces. To comment on this post, please visit the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue’s Facebook page (for Canada-specific articles) or the Office of Social Justice’s Facebook page. Alternatively, please email us. We want to hear from you!

Read more about our comment policy.