“In my first defense no one came to my side, but they all forsook me—may they not be held accountable.”
~2 Timothy 4:16
Is it normal to feel alone serving God Jehovah?
After all, our worldwide brotherhood and local congregations are supposed to be a haven of love and kindness amidst this wicked world. (Heb. 10:24,25; 1 John 5:19)
But it is unrealistic to assume others will never fail us.
David, who had an army of supporters at different times in his life, wrote:
“Reproach has broken my heart, and the wound is incurable.
“I was hoping for sympathy, but there was none,
“And for comforters, but I found none.” (Ps. 31:12; 69:20; 142:4)
Job’s closest friends also abandoned him during the hardest time of his life. (Job 19:14)
Jesus’ own friends fled from him when he faced death. (Matt. 26:56)
So we should not be too discouraged nor surprised if our support group does not react the way we need them to.
We are all Christians trying to fight the good fight, and part of that is learning to forgive each other. (Col. 3:13)
Such circumstances also teach us to rely on Jehovah’s unfailing love regardless of what happens. (2 Tim. 4:17,18)
“Jesus said to them: ‘Children, you do not have anything to eat, do you? […] Come, have your breakfast.'”
I find it heartwarming that one of the last things Jesus did for his friends before leaving this world was to make them breakfast.
He had important instructions to give them, but he did not rush through his visit.
Jesus took the time to comfort them- particularly Peter, who was no doubt discouraged from having denied knowing him on the night of his death. (John 18:25-27; 21:15-19)
Jesus’ forgiving, patient, generous and industrious attitude is a fine benchmark for what type of friends we should strive to be.
“Jehovah has removed the judgments against you.
He has turned away your enemy.
The King of Israel, Jehovah, is in your midst.
You will fear calamity no more.”
Even if we have made mistakes in the past which offended God, we can trust that if we sincerely repent, God will not remain angry at us forever. (Ps. 86:5)
Jehovah disciplined his people in ancient times to the point that it was fair and just, and he will do the same to us today if we fall into sinful practices. (2 Tim. 3:16)
So we should never fear that we are inevitably separated from God.
If he has forgiven us, we in turn have to forgive ourselves.
“’In those days and at that time,’ declares Jehovah,
‘Israel’s guilt will be searched for,
But there will be none,
And the sins of Judah will not be found,
For I will forgive those whom I let remain.'”
God allowed his people to be disciplined for not heeding his commandments and straying from true worship. (Jer. 44:10,11)
But God also foretold that his people would return to the Promised Land after a set period and they would then be at peace with him. (Isa. 44:22; Jer. 31:34, 33:7)
Jehovah God is willing to forgive once he has set matters straight, leaving the past in the past.
Shouldn’t we be willing to do the same?
“Jehovah is merciful and compassionate,
Slow to anger and abundant in loyal love.”
Have you ever become so angry at someone that you became obsessed with their flaws and that, in turn, affected your joy in the congregation?
We do well to imitate Jehovah in being slow to anger.
One way to improve on this is by meditating on the example of Christ Jesus.
Jesus had a mild temper (Matt. 11:29).
He did not allow others to provoke him.
Rather, he entrusted himself to the Highest Judge (1 Pet. 2:23).
How can we, too, be slow in anger?
We want to be able to discern right from wrong, and a big part of that is knowing when to keep our mouth shut.
Otherwise, if we feel contempt toward others, we might end up slandering them (Prov. 11:12,13).
The way to a calm spirit is constant and straight (Prov. 15:21).
Although we feel forces trying to knock us off our path, having a mild temper implies steadfastness.
Jesus remained calm even when his disciples did the exact opposite of what he had asked (Mark 14:34-38).
Likewise, in the congregation, there may be someone who constantly does the opposite of what he is instructed, and yet he has a certain level of authority.
Jehovah does not expect people to be perfect, so it should not surprise us when they err.
True- it is extremely grieving to be targeted by someone’s rudeness on a personal level, or worse yet, to see your loved one bullied by a brother in the faith.
But Jehovah can use others’ shortcomings to develop endurance, faith and a positive attitude in our own personalities.
Another way to look at it is to remember that Jehovah isn’t asking more of us than he himself is willing to give.
“Will Jehovah cast us off forever? […]
Or has his anger caused his mercy to cease?”
These questions are meant to be rhetorical but God’s word clearly gives us the answer:
Jehovah God is not cold-hearted and wrathful to the point of being unforgiving.
It is normal to be haunted by a guilty conscience and wonder if God will forgive us when we have failed Him.
But He has provided the means to forgiveness through the sacrifice of His son (1 Thess. 1:10).
God promises to not stay resentful toward sinners who return to Him (Jer. 3:12).
He even goes beyond that and offers to comfort us (Is. 12:1).
So if our faith begins to falter because we fear Jehovah has cast us aside, let us remember all that He has done for us in the past and patiently treasure it as evidence of His unrelenting love (Ps. 77:11).
“After Job had prayed for his companions, Jehovah removed Job’s tribulation and restored his prosperity.”
Job had to forgive those who had misjudged him before he could receive God’s blessing.
God Himself had been quick to forgive Job for some of the things he had said in error (Job 42:6).
God’s willingness to forgive Job promptly gives testament to how He constantly searches out the good in people instead of concentrating on our negative traits.
“For the eyes of Jehovah are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him,” (2 Chron. 16:9).
When we make a genuine effort to forgive, forget and have a positive attitude, we can then trust God will treat us with that same compassion (Matt. 6:12; Col. 3:13).