What does a husband say to his wife when he knows death is imminent? Even more, what does a husband say to his wife when he has been falsely accused of a crime and has been sentenced to death through the injustice?
In 1944, pastor Helmuth von Moltke was accused, tried, and convicted of conspiracy against the Nazi German government, though he was innocent of the crime. He was sentenced to death and the verdict was carried out on January 23, 1945. Thirteen days before his death, he penned a letter to his wife. He spoke of the peace and sustenance he had received from the Lord in those days, and then he offered the following exhortation to her:
There is only one thing, my dear, that I can say: May God be as good to you as he has been to me, then even the death of your husband will not count. God can show himself all-powerful at any time, whether you are making pancakes for the boys or whether you are looking after their little insides. I ought to say good-bye to you — but I cannot. I ought to deplore and lament all your humdrum daily toil. I cannot. I ought to think of all the burdens which now fall on your shoulders, but I cannot. There is only one thing which I can say: if you keep the consciousness of absolute sincerity when the Lord gives it to you — a security which you would never have known if it had not been for this time and its issue — then I shall leave behind me as my legacy a treasure which none can confiscate, against which even my life cannot weigh in the balance.…
This letter is one of many excerpts between Christian husbands and wives in Michael Haykin’s The Christian Lover: The Sweetness of Marriage and Love in the Letters of Believers. The book includes correspondence between such well-known couples as the Luthers, Calvins, Judsons, Lloyd-Jones, as well as some lesser-known couples like the von Moltkes. The one constant in these letters is the direction and guidance they offer to both husbands and wives in their marital roles and affections — even in times of great difficulty, suffering, or injustice such as that endured by the von Moltkes.
We do well to listen to these godly voices from the past — they endured difficulties and marital difficulties common to all men (1 Cor. 10:13), and remained constant in their delight and trust in God.