Let us introduce you to Facundo (25) and Julieta (23). We first met them here in Argentina on a youth camp four years ago. They had started a long-distance relationship a year earlier and were keen to get married. However, due to parental concerns on both sides, they waited until they’d both graduated before finally setting the date for 21 March this year. That is until the coronavirus pandemic hit.
In the run up to their much-anticipated wedding, day by day, piece by piece, all their plans started to unravel. First, their honeymoon trip to South East Asia was cancelled. Then, as travel options shut down, more and more people dropped out of the wedding celebration. Even Juli’s family were unable to get here. Then the reception venue called and asked them to postpone the whole party. Eventually, churches were asked to suspend public gatherings so even a simple church wedding with Facundo’s family was out of the question.
By God’s providential grace, Juli had travelled to Mendoza for the wedding two weeks before all the restrictions. They decided to go ahead with a ‘civil’ wedding at the registry office, although they were allowed just two witnesses. Not a single family member was present. They went from there to a smart hotel, where they had planned to spend a couple of days as their honeymoon. That was until Argentina declared a state of total lockdown - that very night! Facundo and Juli had to leave the hotel after just a few hours. They were quite possibly the last couple to get married in Argentina this side of quarantine.
So why then, when the very thing Facundo and Juli had looked forward to so much ended up disappearing before them, are we so grateful to God for his gracious providence? It’s because of how God has been at work in their hearts.
At each step of the way, as Facundo and Juli have been beset by disappointments, God has sustained them. He has been forging an ever more enduring faith in their hearts.
On the morning of the registry office wedding, they practiced their vows at our house. We were reminded that if we ever begin to doubt whether God loves us, we must look to the cross for the ultimate demonstration of God’s love. We don’t look to our circumstances but to the cross. ‘God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ (Romans 5:8) As she was leaving, Juli said quietly, ‘I am actually grateful to God for this whole situation. I’ve become more convinced that I want to marry Facundo because I’ve seen how he has reacted under pressure. Although our plans have changed daily and sometimes hourly, it has helped us see that God is in control.’
As lockdown was declared just a few hours after their marriage, Facundo and Juli wrestled in their hotel room with what to do. They read and prayed through 1 Peter 2:13-17, ‘Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority…’ At 11:30pm they returned home after just eight hours of honeymoon!
Time has gone by and they are now back at Facundo’s family home with his mother, brother and sister-in-law. There are still moments of despondency and sadness but, in his grace, God is enabling them to use their gifts to bless and serve our church family. Juli has been learning the guitar so that she can play at church when the lockdown is lifted. Facundo has set himself to video-editing and has been producing our online church services and mini-evangelistic videos. They both join the youth group and have been calling Gerda (aged 96) to encourage her and help her use technology.
Who knows whether they will be able to celebrate with the rescheduled reception in December? Or use their honeymoon plane tickets? Or what will happen with all the food in the catering company’s freezer? But, as Facundo says, ‘The important thing is that we have learned the truth that we do not know what will happen tomorrow. What is our life? We are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. And so we are learning to say: “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:14-15).’
We hope and pray that whatever trials you are facing at this time, you will see the Lord at work in your heart, strengthening your faith in him. We trust that you will depend on God and his sovereignty and that you will be motivated to share the gospel of the love of God in the cross of Christ. Because, though our earthly lives are a mist, Christ’s death brings us eternal life.
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