“[…] Jehovah knows how to rescue people of godly devotion out of trial […].”
~2 Peter 2:9
Peter knew he would die the death of a martyr, but this did not weaken his faith in Jehovah. (John 21:18; 2 Pet. 1:13-15)
He put his trust in God’s undeserved kindness and the transcendence of divine justice. (2 Pet. 1:2; 3:13,18)
We may end up in a painful life situation where we know we are to endure a strenuous trial in the near future.
This might be due to health issues or other unfair circumstances.
If we are convinced of Jehovah’s love for us, we can face our trials with courage, and we will never lose hope in God’s promises. (Rom. 8:35-39; 2 Pet. 1:10,11)
“[…] The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the wicked one.”
~2 Thessalonians 3:3
It would be a mistake on my part to think I could be strong enough to make good choices without God’s guidance.
While everyone benefits from an innate conscience, gone unchecked that very conscience could end up justifying immoral or selfish behavior. (Rom. 2:14,15; Tit. 1:15)
And while I could live a fairly decent life solely based on the values my parents taught me, parents are imperfect and that approach would most certainly doom me to repeat their mistakes. (Pr. 22:6; Rom. 3:23; Eph. 6:4)
On top of this, God’s word explains that one’s personal struggle against Satanic influences is very real. (Eph. 2:2; 6:11,12; 1 John 5:19)
Knowing all this, modesty ought to move me to seek out God’s guidance through prayer and through reading the Scriptures, as well as by staying close to the congregation. (2 Thes. 3:5; Heb. 4:12)
Only then can I truly benefit from ‘protection from the wicked one.’ (Ps. 37:28)
“Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”
If this is one of the verses I’ve cited most from the Bible, it is because I often need to remind myself of this.
Jehovah does not expect us to never be anxious, but he does expect us to rely on him through our trials. (1 Pet. 5:7)
He promises to be there for us, either by providing strength to endure or by showing us the solution. (1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Cor. 4:7-9; 2 Pet. 2:9)
Jehovah often answers our prayers in ways which we could never have even imagined. (Eph. 3:20)
If we look to him for comfort, his training will make us stronger and ‘firmly ground us’ in the faith. (1 Pet. 5:10)
“So now, also complete what you started to do, so that your readiness to act may be completed according to the means you have available.”
~2 Corinthians 8:11
It is important to try to follow through on our promises to the best of our abilities.
Perhaps our health has declined and we feel that what we can offer God is no longer good enough.
We may feel irrelevant and be tempted to give up altogether.
But instead of focusing on our limitations, God focuses on what we can do, and on our attitude. (Luke 21:1-4; 2 Cor. 8:12; 9:7)
We can be confident that whatever sacrifices we make in his service do not go unnoticed (Mal. 3:10; 2 Cor. 9:10; Heb. 6:10)
“I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think, but to think so as to have a sound mind [..].”
The closer we draw to God’s promised kingdom, the harder it is to manage our trials. (1 Pet. 4:7)
How do we protect and improve our mental health?
One proverb advises: “A calm heart gives life to the body, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.” (Prov. 14:30)
When we keep emotions in check, such as anger, stress and anxiety, we can train ourselves to remain calm and strong. (Ps. 37:8; Eccl. 7:9)
We can also pray to God for more patience and empathy. (Prov. 14:29)
If we have a tendency to overreact, it will do us good to nurture a forgiving spirit toward minor mistakes, both our own and those of others’. (Ps. 4:4; Col. 3:13)
If we think before we speak, we will end up with fewer regrets and feel better about ourselves. (Prov. 12:18; 15:1)
Sometimes we may need to physically remove ourselves from a situation before we can figure out how to best tackle the problem. (Prov. 17:14)
Wearing a smile on our face and focusing on what we have instead of what we lack can promote cheerfulness. (Prov. 15:15; 17:22; 2 Cor. 8:12)
It is also important to surround ourselves with people who are encouraging. (1 Cor. 15:33)
It helps to remember that God values us and we are not alone. (Is. 41:13)
Personally, I have found that diet and exercise greatly influence my emotional state.
But if we constantly feel our situation in life is hopeless, we could probably benefit from speaking to a psychology professional who understands our personal values. (Luke 5:31)
The following is a good video to share with someone who might show symptoms of depression:
From Sad to Glad
“After [Paul] said this, he took bread, gave thanks to God before them all, broke it, and started eating.”
Paul was in Caesarea, on the northwest coast of modern day Israel, when he appealed his case to be heard before Caesar.
He was escorted to Rome under the care of army officer Julius, who treated him fairly. (Acts 25:11; 27:1,3,42,43)
Despite his suggestion that the ship and all aboard stay in Fair Havens for the winter, the journey continued.
Fair Havens was located on the south coast of the island of Crete, and they were trying to reach the nearby port city of Phoenix, about seventy-five kilometers (47 mi) northwest of there.
But shortly after departing, a violent wind drove them southwest past the tiny island of Cauda. (Acts 27:14-16)
They managed not to capsize for around the next 1000 km (620 mi) until they neared the island of Malta.
The crew had started to lighten the load on the second day of the journey, and on the fourteenth day, Paul said: “Today is the 14th day you have been waiting anxiously, and you have gone without taking any food at all.” (Acts 27:18,33)
Paul could have become bitter and self-centered in those circumstances.
He could have focused on the unfairness of his situation.
The account says the storm was battering them and their hope had started to fade. (Acts 27:20)
Still, Paul encouraged others to eat and even thanked God for the provision of bread. (Acts 27:34,35)
How much more productive it is to approach life’s afflictions with faith and a gracious spirit. (Prov. 15:13,15; Eph. 5:20)
“Jesus went on progressing in wisdom […].”
At the young age of twelve, Jesus appears to have had a clear idea of the direction his life was heading in. (Luke 2:49)
But for most children, the proverb that states their heart is full of foolishness holds true. (Prov. 22:15)
How can parents, Bible teachers, or mentors help their kids progress in wisdom?
Past suggestions from Watchtower articles include:
- Take the time to teach him/her how to distinguish right from wrong
- Teach them the value of will power
- Be consistent
- Teach them to manage money
- Teach them how to act appropriately/respectfully toward different people
- Do not withhold discipline
- Give reasons for rules
- Give reasons for the way you do certain things
- Be kind, warm and understanding
- Try to make chores fun for them
- Gradually help them take on responsibilities outside of home
- Encourage them every chance you get
- Only rebuke when absolutely necessary, but include something positive
- Listen to him/her patiently
If there is an important child in your life, would he/she say you need to work on any of these things?
Though neither we nor the children we teach are perfect, Jehovah’s counsel is.
(Deut. 6:4-9; Prov. 17:10; 22:6; Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim 2:24,25)
“From now on you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Jesus knew he was about to be executed, but he never lost sight of the greater picture. (Matt. 26:55,56)
He understood his role in God’s purpose and was positive he would fulfill it. (Da. 7:13,14)
He had resolved to obey his father, even at great personal cost. (Matt. 26:39,42,44)
He became the “Perfecter of our faith,” the model whom we can follow when we start to lose hope. (Heb. 12:2,3)
“And I said, ‘I have been driven away from your sight!
How will I gaze again upon your holy temple?’”
As Jonah sank to the depths of the ocean within the belly of the fish, his main concern was not the loss of his own life, his reputation nor material things.
He was not overcome by anxiety to the point of losing his mind or his priorities.
Jonah was deeply grieved because he would no longer be able to gaze upon Jehovah’s temple, the center for true worship.
When we are under great emotional stress, do we value our spiritual privileges above all else? (Ps. 84:10)
We may wonder if our presence before God makes any difference in the vast sea of humanity, but Jonah’s story demonstrates God cares about every one of us at the individual level. (Jon. 4:11)
No one can take any other person’s place before God to render another’s worship. (Matt. 22:37)
In that sense, we are each valuable and irreplaceable. (Jon. 2:9)
“Like the flock of holy ones, like the flock of Jerusalem during her festivals, the cities that were in ruins will become full of flocks of people; and they will have to know that I am Jehovah.”
God prophesied that in the last days, the knowledge of his truth would become abundant. (Dan. 12:4)
Although the observation of holidays as mandated by Mosaic Law was ended with the institution of the Christian congregation, Christians still gather together in large cities to praise and learn about God, following a similar pattern to that in ancient Israel. (Gal. 3:24,25)
If you have not done so already, I invite you to attend one of the remaining free regional conventions programmed for this year nearest to where you live. The talks, videos and interviews given encourage us to never give up.