Armenian Bible Church            

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Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 40322  Pasadena, CA 91114 USA

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By Thomas Cosmades


Chapter 19 


             Fourteen months had elapsed since Aneta’s husband was abruptly arrested and thrown into prison.  After two taxing trips to Urfa, conditions appeared to be beyond any solution.  There was no forthcoming sentence.  Approaching the hostile doctor to seek his favors was out of the question. Yielding to the request for bribes was contrary to Haralambos’ principles.  The fearful omen of execution hung over his head. The effect of this difficult year was taking its toll on Aneta. Her public ministry had stopped after just six weeks when all churches were closed down.  Her short-lived joy of being a prospective mother ended in a miscarriage, adding to her despondency.

            One gloomy morning Aneta was on her way to prison with her mother-in-law. In the main square, they saw a gallows from which an executed man was dangling. This had become a common scene. Everyone could see the hung person who was kept there for several hours, and take warning. In an instant, horror struck her heart. “My husband!” she exclaimed. Anguish seized her whole being. “Is this going to be the end of my beloved Haralambos?” she agonized.  Her torment was so evident that an elderly bystander noticed it. He kindly approached her with a word of reassurance: “Don’t be afraid, my daughter. This is a soldier who was a deserter, a Muslim man.”  The fear would not let her go. With deep apprehension she looked up at the gallows. Yes, he was another person. But Aneta was trembling. All the way to the prison she could think of nothing else. In deep trepidation the two women entered the courtyard of the jail. As soon as Haralambos learned of their visit he joyfully ran to them. But when he saw Aneta’s distress, he asked, “What’s the matter?”  She hung her head. She tried to hide her tears, but to no avail. He saw them for the first time. Until then she had always been composed. But this morning matters had taken an abrupt and unexpected turn. He apparently sensed the cause of her tears and distress.

            “Am I a criminal that I should be hung?” he said, and started reasoning with her the best he could. He was in a good mood, but she wasn’t!  All his efforts to cheer her brought no relief. They parted in deep grief. It was an ominous day. Aneta had no desire to see or to talk with anyone, so went to bed and sank into devastating despair. While she had no desire to add grief to poor Anastasia, her time of crisis had come. Desperation replaced the certainty she had experienced until then.

             Everyone who trusts in the sovereign God certainly undergoes insurmountable crises.  Aneta’s time to contemplate their situation had come. There was a limit to behaving as if she were above the circumstances. Perhaps until then she had not allowed herself to face the possible grim outcome of her husband’s case. It could be that she had sought to compose herself as one who could tackle her quandaries. Indeed, she drew great courage from her faith. But now she questioned whether there had been an element glorifying herself through all she was undergoing: “Look how I can take sorrow!”  Whatever it was, God knew. He was now teaching her that she was very human. Until this point, Aneta hadn’t known herself.  Therefore, coming to grips with this reality brought moments of desperation. Now she could identify with her Lord’s earthly ordeal: “In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and He was heard for His godly fear. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered; and being made perfect He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:7-9).

            For a whole month, Aneta was a broken person. Her condition would probably be diagnosed today as a nervous breakdown. But the term was unknown in those days, at least in that part of the world.  She was sick and without strength. The persistent thought that she and Haralambos were going to be separated by death constantly occupied her mind. The unrelenting fear was unbearable. It was an agony which knew no relief. So overwhelming was its hold on her that she lost all appetite for food. Her poor mother-in-law found herself in the middle of a new quandary. Now she daily took upon herself the task of forcing some milk down Aneta’s throat.

            Neither of them wanted Haralambos to know the plight into which his wife had fallen.  Aneta sent a note to him each day through her mother-in-law. Visits were no longer possible for Aneta. She cried continually. She could not be reconciled to his death and was constantly arguing with herself that he shouldn’t die. In the meantime, Anastasia was afraid that Aneta was going to die! 

            Finally, Aneta knelt in God’s presence and said, “Lord, I am in deep need, I cannot choose the way you have for me. Please bring me to the point where I can say, ‘Thy will be done.’” As soon as she said the “amen” her heavy burden was lifted and she felt great relief. Spiritual as well as physical calmness enveloped her. This was God’s taking over her life and will. Her experience reminded her of the Savior in Gethsemane encountering Satan’s vicious attacks in the midst of his deep grief. An angel had come to assist him in his hour of weakness. Likewise, God reached down and lifted this forlorn young bride during her unbearable hour of weakness.

            For the first time in a month, she experienced rest, both mental and physical. She asked for bread. Anastasia couldn’t believe it! Those who had come to visit interpreted this as Aneta’s last wish before death. But it was the beginning of healing! Within a week not a trace of the illness remained.

            Aneta ran to the prison to see Haralambos. Their joy was unrestrained at seeing each other again, though it was to be short-lived. He quoted Philippians 2:27: “Indeed he was ill, near to death, But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.”  Sharing with him the bitter agonies through which she had passed was not easy.  She tried to express herself carefully, yet wanted to share the sacred deliverance which had so suddenly reached her and swept over her entire being. Conversing about spiritual truths and experiences were his great pleasure. He could spend days just talking about the reality and goodness of the Lord. This was his air and bread. Without it, life had no value for him. His thoughts were centered on God. He found complete satisfaction in Him. So the time of fellowship between the two was precious and blessed.