Determined to Serve Jehovah!
“YOU are not to go out preaching!” “Don’t have your people call here!” Many Christian women hear these and similar expressions from their opposed husbands. But when these men are serving in the armed forces, their wives face special challenges to their faith. (Isaiah 2:4; John 17:16) How, then, do such Christian wives manage to keep spiritually strong and active in Kingdom service?
Loyalty to Jehovah God coupled with personal determination helps them persevere. “I think it was my own sheer determination,” explains Yvonne, a soldier’s wife. “I knew there must be ways around my husband’s opposition.” Indeed, there were.
Another Christian woman, married to an army officer, relates how her determined stand even makes life easier for her husband. “He knows my schedule as well as his, and military people appreciate that,” she explains. Nevertheless, her continued service to Jehovah is no easy course.
Wives of servicemen frequently face the challenge of moving on a few days’ notice if they are to accompany their husbands to a posting far from home. Then, installed in unfamiliar surroundings, it is easy to feel isolated. But this need not be. Those who serve Jehovah have an advantage. What is that? According to the Christian apostle Peter, it is “the whole association of brothers.” Now numbering into the millions, Jehovah’s Witnesses in 231 countries act as a large Christian family, a “brotherhood.” You find them virtually everywhere.—1 Peter 2:17, footnote.
Susan, suddenly uprooted from her home area, arrived to live at the air force base where her husband was assigned. New in the faith and under pressure from her unbelieving husband to cease sharing in the Christian ministry, she relates: “I went immediately to the local meetings, and there I was able to sit and talk to other sisters. I can truthfully say it was this association that kept me going.”
Sometimes loneliness causes depression. Even then, good news provides a welcome uplift. Glenys, an English sister who accompanied her husband when he was posted overseas, relates: “When I was really down, out of the blue, somebody whom I’d known years ago when I was in the army myself wrote and said that she had recently been baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. That gave me a boost just at the right time.”
Jane, who traveled with her husband to Kenya, found that Christian meetings proved to be a lifeline, even though conducted in languages she did not understand. “I knew this was where Jehovah wanted me to be,” she explains. “I was with my brothers, and they were like a tonic. They welcomed me, and I felt we were a family.”
Jane is just one of many in these circumstances who discovered spiritual relatives that she did not even know she had!—Mark 10:29, 30.
Steadfast in the Face of Opposition
“Do not think I came to put peace upon the earth,” Jesus warned. “I came to put, not peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) What did he mean? Even within a family, where peace would be expected, there might be “a sudden hurling of the sword,” comments A. T. Robertson in Word Pictures in the New Testament. “Indeed,” Jesus noted, “a man’s enemies will be persons of his own household.” (Matthew 10:36) How true these words prove to be when a marriage mate is hostile to the truth!
When Diane began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, her husband, an air force officer, was very displeased. What effect did this have on their marriage? “It was like a block of ice coming between us,” Diane explains. “We had been happily married. Suddenly we were just existing in the same household.” How, then, did she cope? “Personal conviction and determination are what counted, together with help from Jehovah and his spirit.” Diane took to heart the Bible example of the prophet Daniel.
When exiled to Babylon and offered food unacceptable to a servant of God, Daniel “determined in his heart that he would not pollute himself with the delicacies of the king.” Yes, Daniel made a conscious decision. He resolved in his heart never to pollute himself by eating that food. What fortitude he then demonstrated as “he kept requesting of the principal court official that he might not pollute himself”! The result? Jehovah blessed his determined stand.—Daniel 1:8, 9, 17.
Likewise today an opposed husband may demand that his wife stop attending congregation meetings. How should she react? Jane found herself in this situation. She explains: “I would never back off under pressure. I knew there could be no compromise. I had to demonstrate how much the meetings meant to me.” Jehovah blessed her resolve as she kept attending.
“My husband tried to keep me from going to the meetings, but that didn’t last too long,” relates Glenys. “I still went. When I returned home, he sometimes beat me, and at other times I was greeted by silence.” Yet, she coped, praying repeatedly. Also, two of the congregation elders regularly prayed with her, which greatly encouraged her to keep attending.—James 5:13-15; 1 Peter 2:23.
At times a husband’s superiors may pressure him to discourage his wife from preaching the good news. Diane found that she had to make it clear to her husband what her priorities were. “I was prepared,” she said, “to take the consequences of my continued preaching.” How like the apostles’ stand this is! (Acts 4:29, 31) Nevertheless, she was circumspect in her preaching. She relates: “I used to have gatherings for coffee and offer everybody present a Truth book.”—Matthew 10:16; 24:14.
Subjection Without Compromise
Though distressed by marital tension, Christian wives look to the future and rely on Jehovah. This helps them to maintain a balanced view. They give their husbands whatever support they can without compromising their faith. So doing, they follow Peter’s inspired advice: “You wives, be in subjection to your own husbands.” (1 Peter 3:1) In The Amplified New Testament, this apostolic instruction reads: “Subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them.” Notice how Jane followed this advice. “My husband told me that what I wanted to do must not interfere with his career,” she explains. “So I tried to find ways I could help him.”
Some Christian wives have thus agreed to attend social functions to which their husbands have been invited. But they still resolve never to compromise their faith. Jane took time to talk to her husband about this. She kindly explained that she was willing to attend but did not want her presence to embarrass him. “I knew that occasionally all present are expected to stand and take part in a toast. I had learned that allegiance is due only to Jehovah, and toasting was much more than simply showing respect. My husband realized how awkward the situation could be, so he simply said: ‘Don’t come!’ I obeyed.”
Glenys, on the other hand, accompanied her husband to such a function, but she watched the officers at the head of the table. When she saw them preparing to toast, she discreetly left for the rest room! Yes, these women adapted themselves but never compromised.
“Won Without a Word”
“If I improve my own ability as a wife, my husband will see that the truth is changing me,” reasoned Yvonne. So she read and reread the chapter in the Family Life book entitled “A Wife Who Is Dearly Loved.”* “I paid particular attention to material under the subheading ‘The Weepers, the Naggers’! But I found the more I tried to speak to my husband, the worse matters became.” Finally, though, she succeeded in helping her husband to serve Jehovah. How? By applying the principle outlined at 1 Peter 3:1, that husbands may be “won without a word.”
The way Christian women care for their families does much to commend Christianity to others. “I tried to make the truth as attractive as possible,” relates Diane. “When I went to meetings, my husband would feel very left out, so I made it a point to instruct the children to be especially well-behaved when we arrived home. I also tried to pay extra attention to him when we returned.” Gradually her husband’s attitude changed as he responded to his family’s kind attention.
Fellow servants of Jehovah can help too. Jane relates that her husband enjoyed the company of Witness missionaries he met in Kenya. “They made friends with him and talked about football, and they were very hospitable. On a number of occasions, we were invited to different missionary homes for meals.” Her husband later explained: “I began to see Jane’s faith from a totally different viewpoint. Her friends were very intelligent people who could speak on a variety of subjects.” Similarly, Diane’s husband changed his view of the truth. When the car he was driving broke down, a young Witness came to his rescue. “That really impressed me,” he says.
Of course, not all marriage mates are won over to the truth. What then? Jehovah supplies help to enable the faithful ones to endure. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Consider Glenys’ encouragement for those in circumstances similar to hers: “Never, never doubt that Jehovah is the One who originated marriage and that he wants couples to stay together. So no matter what the husband might do or what opposition you might get from those around you, Jehovah will never allow you to totter.” Although her husband does not yet worship Jehovah, his attitude toward her and the truth has mellowed.
‘Sow With Tears; Reap With Joy’
Truly, these Christian women are determined to serve Jehovah. If you are in similar circumstances, make this your resolve too. Remember the exhortation: “Jehovah your God you should fear. Him you should serve, and to him you should cling.”—Deuteronomy 10:20.
“The one that without fail goes forth, even weeping, carrying along a bagful of seed, will without fail come in with a joyful cry, carrying along his sheaves,” declares the psalmist. (Psalm 126:6) “You do shed so many tears as you try to show your partner the truth, either silently or verbally,” acknowledges one Witness. “But in the end you cry out joyfully because even if he does not accept the truth, Jehovah blesses you for the effort you make.”
All who faithfully serve Jehovah despite opposition at home earn real commendation. They deserve support and love. May they maintain their uncompromising stand, determined to serve Jehovah!
Making Your Family Life Happy, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. (1978).
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Prayerful study strengthens Christian determination