By Ron Halbrook
Some things ought not change in our world of change. Those who walk in a steady pattern encourage the rest of us by making us realize that we can do the same. Christians who “rejoice evermore” and who “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:16-17) are likely to have children who follow that example. When we see Christians who long for God’s Word like the baby longs for its mother’s milk, when we see that they search “the scriptures daily,” it inspires others among us to form the same healthy habit (1 Pet. 2:2; Acts 17:11). These are patterns that ought not to change with the times and we should thank Christians who help us to learn such lessons.
Forsake Not Assembling
Aged people may think their influence for good passed with the years. Not so! The constant faith and cheerful greetings of bedfast saints are lessons emblazoned in our memory, bearing fruit to this day. We have preached in several places where some aged believer attended every service – in pain, perhaps led by the hand because of fading sight, in a wheelchair, standing through part of the service because of back ailments, or coming and going by a short shuffle of the feet because of waning strength in the legs. One severely afflicted young man we knew attended all of the services – on a stretcher. The example of steadfastness in public worship reflects, first of all, a steadfast faith in the Lord, but it is also a means by which we “consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Acts 2:42; Heb. 10:24-25). This unchanging pattern encourages others of us to emulate the example.
Aged widows sometimes apologize that they are unable to do more, but one such lady writes letters to her family and neighbors encouraging them to study the Bible – and includes tracts to stimulate the exercise. Such ladies do more than they know. Widows and other Christians we know have encouraged us to learn 1 Peter 4:9 by their practicing it over and over. It says, “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.” What a bright spot in this dark world we see because Christians express the warmth and love of hospitality. We pause from life’s busy work to say, “Thank you for this encouragement.”
Wedding Anniversaries Encourage
“What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6). The marriage bond ought not to be broken. Every wedding anniversary is a reminder of this great truth – something has been preserved for another year, something that ought to be unchanging. A fiftieth anniversary impresses the lesson in a striking way because the pitfalls and difficulties to be faced during half a century are naturally many and varied. We wish to thank publicly brother and sister Yater Tant for the encouragement they have given to many of us by marking that very post on 17 September 1981:
Warmest congratulations on your fiftieth wedding anniversary!
I just learned about it, so the greeting is belated. But what a wonderful milestone !that’s milestone, not millstone – as some regard longevity in marriage these days!! It is a major achievement in your own life, but it is also an inspiration to the lives of many others.
One of the high spots in my life was my association with Henry S. Ficklin, a gospel preacher who lived to the age of (I believe) 92 years. Just knowing him provided “fuel” to keep me going, to determine to keep on and on and on in the Lord’s service. Knowing aged widows whose lives are limited in many ways is just such an inspiration, too, though they often feel their influence doesn’t count for much anymore. The message that comes through is this: If these aged saints were able to continue in loving and faithful service to the Master decade after decade in the face of life’s trials and tribulations, then so can I.
That is the same message which comes to me from knowing people like yourself who have preserved the marriage bond decade after decade in the face of life’s trials and tribulations.
May God grant that you will have many more years together, so that the message may become indelibly etched on the hearts of preachers and other Christians in my generation – beginning with me.
Having celebrated our fourteenth anniversary with my own wife on 26 December, it might be well to say that her endurance record encourages me, too. If she can “stick it out” – her, the weaker vessel – then surely I can! May God help us both to realize that the marriage bond ought never to be broken no matter how much the world around us changes.
All of us may be discouraged from time to time in the duties and relationships of this life and in our service to the Lord. This fact makes us realize how important are all the consolations and encouragements given by the Lord -including those given to us through our fellow servants. We should enter the closet and thank God in secret prayer. We can thank Him in public prayers. How else can we thank Him? Let us learn to say more often to each one who helps us along the way, “Thank you for the encouragement!” There are many I need to thank. I hope some whom I have forgotten to thank will read these lines: “Thank you for every encouragement.”
Guardian of Truth XXVI: 6, pp. 87-88
February 11, 1982