My wife and I will celebrate our fortieth wedding anniversary this year. (Just typing those words makes me feel older than I did before I wrote them.) But I remember our wedding as if it were last year. Events that change your life stay with you all of your life.
I make this point in light of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on weddings around the world. Nearly 350,000 US weddings and more than 600,000 international weddings were set to take place in April and May.
Couples can still get married as scheduled but with very few people in attendance, or they can postpone the event for months or longer. This dilemma has major impacts on vendors, couples with aging family members, those who wish to start a family soon, and couples who lose their jobs and cannot afford to finance the celebration they planned.
In these days of deep discouragement, perhaps a story can help.
Three biblical words of hope
John 2 tells us of Jesus’ first recorded miracle. He was invited to a wedding in Cana of Galilee along with his disciples. However, “the wine ran out” (v. 3). This was a catastrophe of far larger significance than might meet the eye today.
In their culture, weddings were arranged years in advance. Families in their small, typically impoverished villages saved for many years for this great celebration. Everyone was invited. And in a day when drinking water was scarce and unreliable, wine was essential. For the wine to run out would be a grave embarrassment for the family, a failure that would forever mark the couple and their wedding.
So Jesus’ mother appealed to her son for help. You know what happened: he instructed the servants to fill six stone jars to the brim with water, then draw some out and bring it to the “master of the feast” (a kind of wedding planner who was leading the event). By turning water into wine, our Lord saved the celebration.
What can we learn from this miracle?
One: Jesus loves weddings.
God created the institution of marriage (Genesis 2:18–24). Scripture predicts a day when the “new Jerusalem” will come from heaven “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). Our Lord wants to bless every marriage with his leadership, provision, and grace.
Two: A wedding is not a marriage.
The event of a single day leads (in God’s will) to a lifetime of shared commitment. The Lord calls us into covenant based on unconditional love, mutuality, and respect (Ephesians 5:22–33). The more we live according to his will, the more we position ourselves to experience his best.
Three: He will redeem all we entrust to him.
The pandemic is forcing couples to make very difficult and unfortunate choices. But none of this surprises our Lord. He is willing to lead all who will follow into his “good and acceptable and perfect” will (Romans 12:2). He has a plan for these days and all the days to come. When we seek him and choose to serve him, he redeems what he allows for his glory and our good.
Whether you were planning a wedding in the coming weeks or not, your life is undoubtedly being disrupted by the pandemic in unplanned and challenging ways. Know that your Father sees you, knows your name, and has a purpose even for these days. His promise is still powerful: “Call to me and I will answer you and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (Jeremiah 33:3).
It’s been said, “The Lord gives his best to those who leave the choice with him.”