In facing hard situations, it seems that preachers’ wives would become experts after dealing with so many problems over the years. However, that does not seem to be the way things are in reality. As a matter of fact, we seem to realize more and more that we are helpless without God and faithful brethren on whom to lean.
A particular incident is vivid in my mind, although there have been many years that have gone by since it happened. A family of Christians were attending where we worshiped and where my husband labored as the local preacher when a tragedy struck their lives. Their only daughter was killed in an automobile accident. At the same time their grandson was injured to the extent that he was left a paraplegic. You would have thought that this would have brought them closer to God to rely on his help as well as to depend on brethren for support.
Instead of either of these, they rebelled against God and wanted no one to come around. Of course, since we have to obey God rather than man, we were obligated to try to do what we could to save them. We were accused of not helping. As a result, I had occasion to talk at length with the wife and mother. She tried to tell me that 1, as well as my husband, knew nothing about tragedies since we were too young to have been through very many of life’s hardships. This, of course, proved that others do not always know what anyone else has had to endure. There are always problems, although they may not be the same ones another faces.
At that time I related some things in my life that I considered quite tragic. My father had left my mother, who then had three children still in school, and she had no job skills to help in supporting us. My father had remarried twice and, of course, to me adultery is a serious tragedy. Only my mother and I were Christians at that time in the family. Since then two have obeyed the gospel, but they are not faithful today. My father died in that adulterous state. “What can be more tragic?” I asked her.
When I was expecting my first child, the institutional issues were just beginning to surface, and the brethren where my husband then preached decided they did not want him to preach as he understood the Bible not to substantiate churches building and/or maintaining these institutions for orphans, widows, etc. Therefore, he was relieved of his work. This was not an easy thing for me, and a direct result of this was our child being born two months prematurely. This, to me, was a serious blow physically and mentally. Being abandoned by brethren whom I had known many years was especially depressing, I told this lady. There were others who did come to our assistance, and, of course, God brought us through this crisis. In fact, not long after our son was born, my husband received a call from Kentucky asking him to come there and preach. This we did as soon as our son was released from the hospital, and we were able to travel. Of course, in the meantime, my husband had to take a secular job, and we moved in with my relatives for those few months.
Other problems arose later when I faced three major surgeries before my 32nd birthday. Also, the premature son was constantly ill and had surgery when he was only two years old.
Later, we adopted a son who, while in elementary school, developed many problems which required some psychiatric help.
I continued to tell her that during that very week in which she and I were talking, I had invited someone we mutually knew to our gospel meeting and immediately was accosted with the remark, “I’m not coming to hear those crazy preachers.” Then quickly the person realized how that sounded and replied, “But I didn’t mean your husband.” However, I reminded him that since my husband preached the same as they did that he, too, could be classed likewise. I reminded him, also, that if the Apostle Paul could be bombarded with persecutions and endure, then surely I could endure.
I told the lady these things were all particularly tragic to me.
I reminded her that we, along with many brethren, personally have helped brethren in many places including foreign lands when famines, typhoons, and the like had struck. As individuals and as a collective body many, including my husband and me, have helped by sending food, clothing, and monies, but we don’t go around broadcasting what we do that others will know about it, but rather we just let God keep the records.
I told her that a church can only function effectively as each member participates. I told her that the church was a place where we are to be busy “going in and going out” as Paul did when he joined himself to the disciples in Acts 9:26-29. 1 continued to tell her that God had designed the church this way so we would avoid becoming spiritually isolated, so spiritual growth could be promoted.
I would like to be able to conclude by telling everyone that I convinced this lady of my convictions and tell you that she and her husband came back into fellowship with God, Christ, and the brethren. However, this was not the case. So far as I know they still remain unfaithful. But I can face God at the judgment with a clear conscience that we tried the best we knew to help in this matter.
Tragedies with me and my family have continued to come. The son who had problems in elementary school continued to have problems in his late teens after he left home, although earlier he had obeyed the Lord in baptism. He spent some time in jail, and I thought my heart would break. But through it all we continued to pray and rely on God for help.
Today as I write I can’t tell you my son is right with God, but I can tell you that he has come a long way. He is attending services of the church more frequently. He has become a good husband and father. And, only this very day in which I am finishing this article, he said to his dad and me, “I know that I need to get myself completely straightened out.” This is the first time since all the problems he’s had, that he’s ever said that. Therefore, prayer does help us. Brethren do help us. God never forsakes us.
When you are ridiculed for standing for truth, when brethren ignore you, when you are accused falsely, just remember that God cares and that he will reward those who endure to the end.
We as preacher’s wives’ can never solve all the problems that come our way, but we can be assured that, with faith and love, we can learn to cope with them and in the end overcome just as John reminds us in 1 John 5.
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 18, pp. 545, 566
September 21, 1989