I desire to make a difference with my life. I desire to live with purpose. I desire to walk in God’s plans for me.
But there are times when I wonder if my singleness is a hinderance to me truly doing so.
I’m sure many of us have been told that singleness is a gift, a season in which we have “extra” time and energy, in which we are “free” from worries and constraints, in which we can live more fully devoted to the Lord and more focused on building His Kingdom.
And yet, while I wholeheartedly believe singleness is a gift, when we don’t have many examples of single women living this devoted life, when our culture portrays romance as the ultimate form of love, when our family and friends show more interest in our relationship status than other areas of our lives, when the church shrinks godly womanhood to only being a wife and mother, we can feel unqualified and inadequate in our singleness for participating in the Body of Christ and truly making a difference in God’s Kingdom.
And maybe we wonder, Do we as single women really have a place? A place in God’s plan, in God’s family, in God’s heart?
In answer to these wonderings, I’ve found encouragement from the stories of women in the Bible - single women in the Bible!
In their stories, we find examples of godly womanhood in singleness and we see God’s heart for single women: His heart that pursues us in love, that includes us in His plan, that values our presence, and that empowers us to be the women He created us to be.
Single Woman in the Bible
The (*) indicates women whose marital status is unknown or debated. Yet in Scripture, there is no reference to them being married. In a time and culture when a woman’s status was often determined by whose daughter or wife she was, I think it’s telling that the Biblical writers don’t include information about a spouse even if there was one; it conveys that these women (and all women) have significance beyond their relationship status.
Exodus 2:1-10; Exodus 15:19-21; Numbers 12:1-16, 20:1; Micah 6:4
We first meet Miriam as a girl, standing on the banks of the Nile, watching over her brother Moses, who was placed in basket in the river in hopes of hiding him from certain death. When Pharaoh’s daughter finds the baby, Miriam bravely speaks up and offers to find a wet nurse for him.
The Exodus narrative continues to follow Moses’ life, but when we fast forward 80 years, we meet Miriam again. This time, she is standing on the banks of the Red Sea, having helped her brothers lead the Israelites through its parted waters as they escape Pharaoh’s army and slavery in Egypt.
In celebration, Miriam, who is known as a prophet among her people, leads the other women in songs of worship.
Miriam had her imperfections. At one time, in prejudice and jealousy, she spoke against Moses as God’s chosen leader and his choice of a wife. Because of her sin, she was punished, and because of God's grace, she was forgiven.
In Micah, God names Miriam right alongside Moses and Aaron as one He sent to lead His people out of slavery and into a new life of freedom.
Numbers 26:33, 27:1-11, 36:1-11
The story of Zelophehad’s daughters is short, yet it’s one of my favorites!
Zelophehad had 5 daughters and no sons. At the time of his death, none of his daughters were married. This was during a time when the inheritance was traditionally passed from father to son.
Yet this didn't stop the daughters from going to Moses and the other leaders, saying, “Why should our father's name disappear from his clan because he has no son? Give us property among our father's relatives.”
So Moses brought their case before the Lord, and God replied, “What Zelophehad's daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance and turn their father's inheritance over to them.”
Because of these women’s boldness, they received their inheritance, and God gave the Israelites new laws that would provide for future women who found themselves in similar situations.
Martha & Mary of Bethany
Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-44; John 12:1-8
Martha and Mary were sisters who often get compared to each other. But I think we’re better served not to look at them in relation to one another, but to instead look at their relationships with Jesus.
Scripture speaks of Martha as a woman of generous hospitality, who regularly opened her home and served meals to Jesus and His disciples. When the stress of hosting got to be overwhelming, Jesus affirmed that He saw Martha in her frustration and worries and reminded her that he didn’t need perfect performance; her presence with Him was enough.
Mary was commended by Jesus on two occasions for her devotion: once when she defied cultural expectations to sit at His feet and listen to His teaching; and once when she poured out her best perfume to anoint Jesus’ feet in worship and adoration.
Both women received comfort from Jesus when their brother died, and both witnessed Jesus raise that some brother to life again.
Matthew 27:55-61, 28:1-11; Mark 15:40-47, 16:1-11; Luke 8:1-3, 24:1-11; John 19:25, 20:1-18
The Bible doesn’t tell us much about Mary Magdalene’s past, but we do know that after Jesus freed her from seven demons (this could mean literal demonic oppression or symbolize some form of illness), she became one of His followers. She is named among other women who financially supported Jesus out of their own means.
Along with other women, Mary stayed near the cross as Jesus died, saw His body buried, and went to the tomb to anoint His body on the third day, finding it empty with the stone rolled away.
Mary Magdalene was the first person Jesus appeared to after He rose from the dead, and He entrusted her with sharing the good news of His resurrection with His other disciples.
Acts 16:12-15, 16:40
We meet Lydia only once in the Bible, when she meets Paul and his companions. These men have traveled to Philippi and go to the river to find a place of prayer. They begin speaking with the women who had gathered there, sharing the gospel.
One of those listening is Lydia. She is a dealer in purple clothe - a businesswoman, and more than likely a successful one.
Her heart is receptive to the gospel, and after she and her household are baptized, she opens her home to Paul and his companions, and her home becomes the gathering place for the new church in Philippi.
These are just 5 stories of single women we find in Scripture. (I was originally going to write about 10!)
These women encountered the love and power and grace of God, and by His love and power and grace they participated in His body and made a difference in His Kingdom.
And by His love and power and grace, so can you.