Sabina Wurmbrand’s life made an impact that has reverberated into innumerable lives. Imagine yourself in Romania, in 1945. Communism has recently stormed Romania and is raining torrents of hatred and persecution upon the Christians. They’ve also taken a more subtle approach through seeking to slither their way into the inner ranks of the Church. Their chosen means of accomplishing this is by striving to gain the approval and endorsement of her protectors.
This is the moment at which Sabina Wurmbrand had arrived. Her husband Richard, a Romanian pastor, was invited to a gathering convened by the Communists. Known as “The Congress of Cults,” this meeting was a summons for all religious groups to join under the communist agenda. Over 4,000 pastors and leaders gathered together and there elected Joseph Stalin as the honorary president of this congress. One after another the church leaders ascended the platform and declared their loyalty to the godless principles and leaders of communism.
“Richard,” said Sabina, “stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ! They are spitting in His face.” He knew what he needed to do, but he also understood the consequences.
“If I do so, you lose your husband,” Richard replied.
Sabina also knew what would happen, but this wasn’t a time for selfish thinking. She told Richard,
“I don’t wish to have a coward as a husband.”
Upon hearing his wife’s encouragement, Richard went to the platform and boldly declared the truth. As he said, “Then I arose and spoke to this congress, praising not the murderers of Christians, but Jesus Christ, stating that our loyalty is due first to Him. The speeches at this congress were broadcast and the whole country could hear proclaimed from the rostrum of the Communist Parliament the message of Christ! Afterward I had to pay for this, but it was worthwhile.”
Are you willing to surrender that which you hold dear, for the glory of God? More specifically, would you gladly give up your husband (or future husband) to further the Kingdom of Heaven? Sabina Wurmbrand was faced with this question, and she was ready with an answer.
Take particular notice of the way in which Sabina replied in this circumstance. The bait was certainly there for her to turn inward and focus on what she was losing. And yet, she had the strength of soul to set her eyes upon Jesus and not think of herself. As a result, she was a strength to her husband, propelling him to stand firm for the glory of God. She made it easier for Richard to walk in obedience to Christ’s call.
Sabina was ready. She prepared her heart beforehand and therefore was equipped to encourage and strengthen her husband to “wipe the spit from Christ’s face.” As a set apart woman you will marry a man who is called to a difficult lifestyle. Your future husband may not spend 14 years in prison (as Richard Wurmbrand did), and he may not be a pastor or an overseas missionary. He is, however, called to a lifestyle of complete surrender to Jesus and the furtherance of the Gospel. Such a life will be replete with persecution and trials, yet cascading with a Niagaran waterfall of joy.
This story of Richard and Sabina isn’t an isolated one. Men of God throughout the ages have attributed much of the spiritual strength they exhibited to the fact that they had strong and supportive wives. Paul, in 1 Timothy 3, even lays out qualifications that a woman must meet for her husband to be a leader in the church. If God brings you into a marriage, it would behoove you to seek beforehand to be ready to co-labor with your husband in the calling God has given him, and to be a life-giving strength in your marriage and family. This type of readiness calls for a diligent preparation that certainly doesn’t happen by twittering away one’s time. And yet, how does a young woman go about preparing for marriage?
Even at the mention of “preparing for marriage” you probably have mental images of sewing machines, bread pans, reusable diapers, and vacuums stampeding through your mind. Though these are certainly valuable things to know how to use, I would propose that only preparing in such ways is similar to readying yourself for a road trip by making sure all of the snacks are in the car, but forgetting to put fuel in the tank. You must have something more if you’re going to go the distance.
I’m going to get to a few practicals, but I first want to establish a foundation. You must be firmly fixed in Jesus Christ and know the power of His Gospel in your life. Your devotion to Jesus is the yeast that will stimulate practical growth. Without it, all of your efforts will fall flat. That which is going to prepare you best for marriage is to make Christ your central focus, your first love, and your singular purpose in life. Your relationship with God sets the standard, and the quality of your marriage will never exceed that standard. So make your relationship with God your priority. Seek Him, adore Him, think about Him, do everything for Him and unto Him, spend time with Him, and you will be prepared for marriage.
So, let’s flesh out some practical ways that you can prepare to be a life-giving strength in your marriage.
Know the Word of God
The Word of God is the foundation of the Christian life. Biblical study, reading, and memorization will not only establish you more firmly as a Christian but will greatly benefit to your marriage. Knowing the Bible will equip you to be a strength to your husband as you make decisions, walk through difficult situations, do ministry, and raise a family together. A word fitly spoken is valuable – and a wife’s readiness to speak truth is of inestimable worth.
Paul tells us that the wife of a church leader must be “sober.” (See 1 Timothy 3.) Sobriety is often confused with the word somber. Sobriety isn’t a downward tug on the smile or a lack of joy, but rather a self-control and clarity of mind. Sobriety doesn’t allow the things of this world to distract from those things which are eternal. Sobriety isn’t gained passively; you must be diligent to develop an ever-watchful readiness and focus in your life. Practice this by exercising self-control in areas of sleep, food, media, and ungodly words ( i.e. flattery, flirtation, manipulation, gossip, etc.).
Prepare to Go Without
Every Christian will suffer persecution and difficulty. (See 2 Timothy 3:12.) That being the case it is befitting that you learn to forgo earthly comforts and pleasures now, so that you can be a joy and strength to your marriage when difficulty comes. Beds, clothing, good food, etc. are not bad things, and are a blessing to have. But do not be overly attached to them, and be ready to forsake them. Be ready to give up your favorite “____”, to fast for a day, and to miss sleep for a night, and even practice these things to prepare you for future times when you will be called upon to go without.
Live with Dignity
“Their wives likewise must be dignified” (1 Tim. 3:11 ESV), says Paul, speaking of the qualifications for Church leaders. It is important to understand that every second of your life counts. Not only does your life represent the character of Christ, but it also represents your husband. Learn to treat every moment with import and to be above reproach in every word, thought, and deed. Walk in every situation with an ever-growing humility, and yet with a dignified and heavenly bearing. In every environment seek to dignify and make it beautiful. This will prove a tremendous blessing to your husband. Don’t sink to the standard of whoever you happen to be around, but lift those around you to a higher standard.
Allow the Men Around You to Lead
As a young woman, it is important that you learn to give a man the dignity of leading. Allow your father and brothers to open doors for you, serve you, and lead you. This will prepare you to learn to follow your husband. At the same time, when a man isn’t there to lead, be ready to step up to the task and lead those around you.
Be Ready to Share the Gospel
Your husband, if he is a godly man, will be constantly speaking the truth of the Gospel to those around him. As a result, there will be times in his life when he will need to point women to someone who can walk them through the Gospel. Be ready to fulfill this role and practically co-labor with your husband for the salvation of souls.
As a final encouragement, though it is important to prepare for marriage, don’t make preparation for marriage your focus. You have an opportunity to live all-out for Jesus as a single woman, don’t waste that opportunity. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and He will prepare you for marriage. Make Him your first priority, seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and He will equip you to be an extraordinary wife.