On Wednesday the 22nd of June, just 10 days before my wedding, I woke up with a case of painful and infected chickenpox. I like to think I usually have fairly healthy and even skin so my first reaction was of shock and confusion. What are all these spots? My suspicion was chickenpox and I immediately asked friends to intercede for me in prayer. Fast forward a few hours and a doctor confirmed my thoughts, put me on antibiotics and recommended I postpone my wedding. Two other doctors recommended the same course of action. And so, it was postponed.
The experience made me just pause and reflect on the sovereignty of God. I find it bizarre how much we like to delude ourselves into thinking we are in control of things and our lives in general. We are far more vulnerable, at all times, than we ever realise. We are far more dependent on God than we realise. We take each breath because it is his sovereign will for us to yet take another.
Couples often spend many months planning a wedding and although I am not one of them, I know some women have thought about their ideal wedding for years. Although I never had an idea of a ‘dream wedding’, the planning turned out to be stressful and the inconvenience that the illness caused for my fiancé and I reminded me of the wonderful truth that God is in control and we truly aren’t. In James 4:13-15, it is said:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
I truly believe in the absolute sovereignty of God. I believe it is a doctrine that is completely biblical and can be seen throughout the entire bible. Pastor and theologian John Piper said it brilliantly in ‘A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race and the Sovereignty of God‘:
God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes we don’t see why we are going through what we are going through. But the Christian is called to live by faith and one of the outcomes of that faith is that we begin to see and experience that God loves us and He does things for our good. We may be inconvenienced or stressed or afraid at the particular time of trouble but the fruit of persevering through those experiences is one that deepens our faith and allows us to later share our experiences with others.
Wedding planning had put a huge amount of stress on us. We were planning almost all of it alone and some of our familial circumstances are difficult so we had to rethink many parts of a traditional Western wedding. The stress started to a cause rift between us as we began to neglect one another and lose sight of why we were even getting married in the first place. The illness put a brake on that. We pulled together, refocused, spent more time with the Lord and for the first time ever, we started to pray out loud together. We were reminded of why we wanted to get married in the first place: to glorify Christ. It was wonderful. I am reminded of Proverbs 19:21 in which it is said:
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.
And I praise God for that.