Has the coronavirus left you feeling lonely, helpless, angry, or blindsided? If so, that’s okay. All of these are natural human responses. Add a wedding into the mix, and you may be experiencing a particularly heart-wrenching season of life. Maybe you had hoped to have all your family and friends with you when you exchanged vows. Maybe you had hoped to get married on a particular date or at a certain venue. Maybe you had hoped to travel on a honeymoon. And now, the current global pandemic has completely upended all those good dreams, desires, and plans.
How is a couple to make sense of all this?
Several of my friends have seen their wedding plans changed in one way or another due to the coronavirus. One couple kept their original date but had to limit the number of attendees in accordance with social distancing regulations. Another received their marriage license one day, finished premarital counseling the next day, and was married in a small ceremony the third day—two months earlier than initially planned. Another postponed their wedding.
I interviewed these friends, asking what they would say to other brides and grooms facing similar complications. What follows are five truths to remember, all grounded in God’s Word. I hope reflecting on them soothes your heart and edifies your soul.
Remember God’s Sovereignty
Are you frustrated by feelings of helplessness? Are you grappling to make sense of the unthinkable?
Although you may be disappointed and still struggling to cope with the prospect of relinquishing your dream wedding, God was not surprised or taken off guard by the sudden changes. All of your days, including your wedding day, were written in His book before even one had come to pass (Psalm 139:16). What is unknown to us is entirely known to Him. Furthermore, He is completely in control and will accomplish all of His purposes and fulfill all of His promises to His people. The pandemic might have changed your plans, but it changes nothing about God or His care for you. Consider the following truths from Scripture:
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. (Psalm 147:5)
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. (Psalm 139:4)
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. (Isaiah 40:28)
I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’ (Isaiah 46:9b-10)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:28-32)
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)
From cover to cover, the Bible reminds us of God’s sovereignty. As believers, we must trust that God is using all things in our lives—even the coronavirus and the changes it is forcing us to make—for His glory and our good.
Remember God’s Compassion
Are you grieving the beautiful plans you had for your wedding day? All the time, thought, and energy you poured into preparing for a celebration that now may never happen the way you had envisioned?
If so, be comforted to know that the God who knows all things and preordains your days is also the God who cares deeply about you, more deeply than anyone else. The very same God who, in order to reconcile us to Himself, became a man (Colossians 1:19-20, John 1:14) and experienced the same kind of human sufferings and sorrows that you and I do (Isaiah 53:3). He is not ignorant of His children’s sorrow and pain. He does not begrudge or belittle your grief. Consider just a few verses that describe God’s compassionate and loving disposition toward His children:
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15)
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
By meditating and holding on to these promises, we are reminded of God’s kind and gentle character in the midst of the current trial. And despite lost opportunities such as a traditional wedding with family and friends in attendance, or an overseas honeymoon, we can trust that God still loves us and has amazing plans for these new marriages.
Remember What Marriage Symbolizes
Those who desire a wedding and marriage desire a good thing. The union of a husband and wife was instituted by God Himself at the very beginning of human history (Genesis 2). Declaring that it was “not good that the man should be alone,” God created woman—“a helper fit for him”—and brought her to the man. He then gave them a command: to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it (Genesis 1:28). Even today, those who engage in a marriage covenant are participants in God’s good design for human relationships and flourishing.
But God’s plans for your marriage do not stop with relational intimacy and building a family. God also intends married couples to reflect the gospel. Consider the apostle Paul’s words to the Ephesians:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:25-32)
By citing Genesis 2:24, Paul intentionally draws a parallel between the union of a husband and wife in marriage and the union between Christ and His church. God has always intended marriage to be a means of understanding the profound love Christ has for His bride, the church. Even if your wedding plans were taken away, be comforted in knowing that your participation in this glorious reflection of the gospel (and your participation in the gospel itself! Romans 8:35-39) is a privilege that the coronavirus has not taken away.
Remember to Embrace an Eternal Perspective
Getting married during a global pandemic involves a great deal of deferred or sacrificed hopes. As we have already covered, God is not ignorant or unfeeling towards these present disappointments. In fact, if you have been forced to delay celebrating your marriage with friends and family, no one can understand your situation better than God, because He, too, is waiting on a wedding celebration! Consider:
- Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to women waiting up all night for the bridegroom—who was delayed—to appear for the wedding feast (Matthew 25:1-13). We, like these women, must wait for the bridegroom to appear before the wedding celebration can begin.
- When He instituted the Lord’s Supper (symbolizing the covenant between Himself and the church) the night before His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples that he would not drink of the fruit of the vine until the day He would drink it again in His Father’s kingdom (Matthew 26:29). Jesus will not drink the wine until He is finally united with His bride.
- We know from Revelation 19 that the wedding feast of the Lamb will not occur until the second coming of Christ.
As Christians, we are assured of our Savior’s love. We are betrothed to Him, sealed with the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). However, we have yet to see that love’s full fruition. We still live in a fallen, broken world that groans for redemption, and we must wait with patience (Romans 8:18-25). In this way, your deferred hopes for your wedding celebration are not unlike our present spiritual circumstances.
Be comforted that God knows what it is to wait for a wedding celebration! Live in expectant hope, learning to embrace the now and not yet of the promises we have in Christ.
Remember to Delight in Your Beloved
The most important component of a wedding is not the ceremony, not the reception, but the marriage it commences. I say this not to belittle the secondary things—which are themselves precious and good—but to remind you that the thing that remains—your spouse—is the better portion.
If the coronavirus changed your wedding plans, you now face a choice as to how you will respond. Choose to treasure your unique wedding story—even if it in no way resembles what you had planned. Choose to glorify God through your marriage and your response to this temporary adversity. Choose to delight in the one you love.
I hope you and your spouse will choose to delight in this better portion.
Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. (Proverbs 5:18-19)
I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go. (Song of Solomon 3:4)