“[…} Many of those asleep in the dust of the earth will wake up, some to everlasting life and others to reproach and to everlasting contempt. […]
But as for you, go on to the end. You will rest, but you will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.”
What a beautiful hope God has given us in the promise of a resurrection for those who have died.
Centuries after Daniel lived, with the resurrection of Jesus Christ in spirit form, a new type of resurrection hope was eventually introduced to humanity. (Luke 12:32; 22:28-30; John 10:14-16; 1 Pet. 1:3-5)
Still, the resurrection most of us look forward to is the original one promised to take place here on a paradise earth. (Job 14:14,15; Ps. 37:29; Is. 26:19; John 11:24; Acts 24:15; Rev. 21:3-5)
Five years ago on this date, we unexpectedly lost a very kind-hearted friend who always gave everyone of his time.
Many of us looked up to him and asked him for advice, and he always followed up on it.
I knew him as a young girl, but in adulthood he became my husband’s friend.
Although I have lost friends and family to death, the date of his parting sticks with me because it was my first day at a new job.
I drove by his place of death later that morning, noticing an accident, unaware of what had happened.
Then I drove by the same spot everyday for the next four years, and every single morning I wished I could go back in time and warn him to take things easier and not overwork himself.
But he gave his all to God, and even if I could warn him, he would still work as diligently as he did to help others.
What is more, if it is impossible for us imperfect humans to forget our loved ones whom we’ve lost, how could God in his perfect love ever forget them? (Heb. 6:10)
Like Daniel, many faithful servants of God await in rest until God calls their name and blesses them with everlasting life.
Who do you want to see again?
“I will cause a horn to sprout for the house of Israel,* and I will give you an opportunity to speak among them […].
*(endow the house of Israel with strength)”
The “horn” metaphor in this passage is meant to illustrate God giving strength to his people. (1 Sam. 2:10)
Although speaking God’s message is a privilege, there are times when we may feel tired and discouraged.
When we feel that way, we rely on God’s power which is “beyond what is normal” to fulfill our ministry. (2 Cor. 4:7; 2 Tim. 4:5)
We do so by praying to him for strength, following Christ’s cheerful example, and by leaving our problems in God’s hands. (1 Sam. 1:10, 18; Acts 20:35)
“When he spoke to me, spirit came into me and made me stand up on my feet […]”
Sometimes we may feel like we can no longer go on dealing with life’s problems.
We may want to do good and move forward and onward, but we just cannot find any fight left in us.
If we rely on Jehovah God, he will give us the strength to boldly carry on. (Ps. 138:3)
He will give us the peace of mind needed to continue serving him. (Ps. 29:11; Dan. 10:19)
If we continue to ‘walk in Jehovah’s name,’ he will bless us with his superior spirit, allowing us to successfully stand up to our trials. (Zec. 10:12)
“Let us lift up our hearts along with our hands to God in the heavens […]”
Is God your best friend?
Jehovah God wants us to reach out to him in heartfelt prayer. (Ps. 65:2)
But it might be difficult to open up to someone we cannot see or physically listen to.
Even if we cannot find the right words, if we continuously try to reach out to God in prayer, he understands what we are trying to say. (Rom. 8:26,27)
God is not just looking for routine acts of worship or words.
He wants us to “lift up our hearts along with our hands.”
This indicates sincere motivation coupled with good deeds.
Perhaps in the past we have been guilty of loving God half-heartedly, afraid of giving more than we were already giving to his service. (Re. 3:16)
Or perhaps we have even been guilty of being double-hearted, verbally committing to something while we secretly resolved not to carry it through. (Matt. 15:7,8)
How comforting it is to know that if we repent, reexamine our lives, and seek God again with all our heart, he will forgive us and be our friend. (Jer. 29:12,13)
In the prophet Jeremiah’s day, most became obstinate in their behavior while others just pretended to repent, and this hurt Jehovah. (Jer. 3:10; 8:6)
Let us make sure every day that what we are doing in God’s service is motivated by whole-hearted love for him and we can trust that he will do his part. (Ps. 10:17; Ps. 119:145)
“Correct me, O Jehovah, with judgment,
But not in your anger, that you may not reduce me to nothing.”
We all need to be corrected from time to time, either by someone at work, or if we are younger, by our parents or teachers, or we may be counseled by a mature, caring friend.
It is human nature to initially be embarrassed and even to resist the correction.
Jehovah corrected his People through his prophets.
We do not have modern-day prophets, but we can read God’s recorded thoughts in his written Word, and find God’s counsel under prayer through Bible reading.
To accept God’s correction, we need to humbly recognize that, despite having freedom of choice, it is not in our best interest to act independently of God. (Jer. 10:23)
It is easier to accept correction as soon as we realize we are doing something wrong, without needing to wait for someone to blatantly point out our mistakes to us.
But if it comes to that, and we are privately or publicly reproved, let us remember that Jehovah takes the time to discipline those whom he loves and wants to keep by his side.
Everyone needs to be refined by God’s love and he expects you to keep trying. (Heb. 12:5,6)
As one brother put it, it is better to accept correction now than to ‘be reduced to nothing’ on God’s Judgment Day.
“Why have these, my people, said, ‘We roam freely.
We will come to you no more’?”
God was asking his People why they had forsaken him and turned to worshipping material idols. (Jer. 2:11)
Although God gives us freedom of choice, to assert that freedom to pursue “what is useless” would be to waste the precious gifts of life, time and energy he has given us.
Today’s equivalent of useless idols may not necessarily be a stone, ceramic or wood sculpture one kneels to.
It may be selfish conduct that is in direct conflict with God’s norms, or maybe even a vain hobby that consumes valuable time we could otherwise be using to help others. (Eph. 5:15,16,18; Php. 3:19)
Or perhaps we are obsessed with achieving something like a social status that is beyond our means of living and which forces us to spend so much time at work, we end up neglecting family life, sacrificing Bible study or meditation time. (1 Tim. 6:9,10)
Whatever internal or external “god” may be rivaling our one True God, if we let our worship be derailed, we will reap the bitter consequences of that choice. (Jer. 2:19)
“There is hope for whoever is among the living […]”
We should never give up hope on people, because even the most haughty can change for the better.
People’s circumstances change throughout their lives.
Some become more hard-hearted while others are softened as they recognize a higher power.
No one knows for certain the individual future of any other person, nor do we control our own.
“Time and unexpected events overtake them all” therefore “men cannot be certain of anything that will happen to them in the future.” (Ec. 7:14; 9:11)
Tragic events happen to everyone, whether they do good or bad things.
Blessings also happen to everyone.
In this imperfect world in which we live in, some things are only a matter of chance.
So is there any advantage to doing the right thing, even when it comes at a personal cost?
“It will turn out well for those who fear the true God, because they fear him.” (Ec. 8:12)
Those who have faith can be optimistic about their own long-term future and hopeful about that of others.
“But take care that rage does not lead you into spitefulness […] Beware that you do not turn to wrongdoing, choosing this instead of affliction.”
~Job 36:18, 21
Job’s young wise friend Elihu had a profound understanding of human nature.
Instead of questioning Job’s loyalty toward God, he analyzed the resentment Job seemed to be harboring against their Creator.
In his confusion and pain, Job had blindly gone along with his critics’ assumption that his suffering originated in God (Job 34:5).
This led him to adopt a defensive attitude instead of a humble one (Eccl. 7:7).
Elihu saw through this and patiently corrected Job, admonishing him of the dangers of such an attitude.
The Supreme Judge “never violates his justice and abundant righteousness,” (Job 37:23).
When facing trials in which it is difficult to distinguish right from wrong, it is important ‘not to become wise in my own eyes,’ (Prov. 3:7).
A human’s line of reasoning cannot be above God’s (Job 36:26).
Therefore, it would be completely illogical to lose faith in Him or to lose patience with his congregation.
Such an attitude might lead me to indifferently commit sins which I might then try to justify.
While it may not always be easy to explain my own suffering, Jehovah promises to ‘rescue me during my affliction, […] to draw me away from the brink of distress to a broad space, free of restriction’ (Job 36:15, 16).
Only with God’s blessing could someone ever find such a place, free of all suffering.
“Therefore, people should fear him. For he does not favor any who think that they are wise,” (Job 37:24).