“[…] 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)
“For you need endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the fulfillment of the promise.”
The work “Insight on the Scriptures” explains that “endurance” in ancient Greek means to “stand one’s ground; persevere; remain steadfast,” and “not lose hope in the face of obstacles.”
Jesus had to wait patiently to receive his heavenly blessings after sacrificing his life, and we do well to imitate his patient attitude. (Heb. 10:12,13)
He taught that what we do towards the end of our Christian ministry counts for more than what we did at the start. (Matt. 24:13; Luke 21:19)
We demonstrate endurance when we look for strength in God’s Word and through prayer, instead of looking for quick and easy short-term solutions to our problems. (Rom. 15:4,5; Jas. 1:5)
We can then face problems with a positive attitude, knowing that without them, we would not have had a chance to demonstrate our faith/hone our Christian qualities. (Rom. 5:3-5; Jas. 1:2-4)
Though God’s promises might sometimes feel like they are too far off, endurance helps us remember that they “will not delay.” (Heb. 10:37)
“[The undeserved kindness of God] trains us to reject ungodliness and worldly desires and to live with soundness of mind and righteousness and godly devotion amid this present system of things.”
Paul mentions soundness of mind three times in his letter to Titus, as well as alluding to our use of reason. (Tit. 1:8; 2:5; 3:2)
It seems to be the underlying theme of his letter.
He says that for someone whose mind and conscience are defiled, “nothing is clean,” right before he condemns religious hypocrisy. (Tit. 1:15,16)
We can conclude, then, that in order to have a stronger sound mind, we need to continuously nurture our own moral thoughts so as to have purer motives.
A Christian with a sound mind is one who adopts Christ’s way of thinking over his or her own. (Matt. 6:33,34; Rom. 12:2; Phil. 1:9,10; 4:4-7; 1 Pet. 4:7,8)
If we feel this world is pushing us toward our tipping point, we can meditate on the transcendence of God’s promises. (Tit. 1:2)
“[…] You may have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but as more than a slave, as a brother who is beloved […].
~Philemon 15, 16
In his letter to Philemon, Paul entreats him to welcome back their fellow Christian, Onesimus, as a brother more so than as an escaped slave.
Paul did not use his authority in the congregation to promote personal opinions on civic matters.
Instead, he appealed to his friend’s love for God and others. (Phil. 9)
Even today, in such a hate-filled world in which we feel the effects of generations of injustice, we can trust that divine love is capable of eradicating the root causes of inequality. (1 John 4:21)
“All of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. […] You are all one in union with Christ Jesus.”
We are all equally valuable within the congregation, regardless of our gender, ethnicity, social class, or whatever we identified as before becoming Christians.
Jesus gave his life for us each as individuals.
That is why we strive to give up our old divisive attitudes and humbly learn to see all our brothers and sisters with honor and appreciation (Rom. 12:10; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:24)
“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)
“[Apollos] was acquainted only with the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, and when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him into their company and explained the way of God more accurately to him.”
Apollos was an eloquent Jew of the well-educated city of Alexandria. (Acts 18:24)
He evidently learned of Jesus at least nineteen years prior to this account, before Pentecost and the pouring of holy spirit.
Despite being well-versed and a skilled speaker, he humbly allowed the Christian couple to spiritually enlighten him.
In time, he came to be a respected missionary working under the congregation’s arrangements. (Titus 3:13)
In our ministry, we sometimes encounter spiritual people who are somewhat familiar with the Scriptures and who profess faith in Jesus.
If we patiently help them develop a more accurate knowledge, we may be surprised at their willingness to learn the truth and serve God alongside us. (1 Cor. 3:6,9; 1 Tim. 2:3,4)
“[…] They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and threw them outside their boundaries. […] And the disciples continued to be filled with joy and holy spirit.”
Jesus had foretold the type of joy his disciples would reap on account of persecution:
“Happy are you whenever men hate you, […] and denounce your name as wicked for the sake of the Son of man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for look! your reward is great in heaven […].” (Luke 6:22,23)
Paul and Barnabas were physically thrown out of Antioch of Pisidia by “God-fearing” women and prominent men after only about one week of preaching there.
But the many Greek-speaking new disciples were happy despite the opposition because they knew they had God’s spirit. (1 Pet. 4:14)
While some modern day Christians enjoy more freedom of worship than others, all of us undergo various trials to our faith.
Whatever we are experiencing, if we endure with a positive attitude, we will also be blessed with a feeling of joy. (Jas. 1:2,3)
“When [Barnabas] arrived and saw the undeserved kindness of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all to continue in the Lord with heartfelt resolve.”
The early Christian congregation was changing in the sense that it was no longer exclusive to Jews or Jewish proselytes.
Barnabas was a Levite who had converted to Christianity. (Acts 4:36)
He was appointed an apostle because holy spirit moved him to do missionary work. (Acts 13:4; 14:14)
When he saw the enthusiasm with which the new converts in Antioch received the good news of the kingdom, he sought out Paul and together they helped strengthen the congregation. (Acts 11:25,26)
It was there that “by divine providence” Christ’s disciples were first called “Christians.”
In Greek, the phrase translated “heartfelt resolve” literally means “purpose of the heart.”
Other synonyms could be: firmness, conviction, determination.
Barnabas not only told his new spiritual family to stay in the truth; he took them under his wing and nurtured their faith.
Through personal sacrifice, tolerance toward others, and a joyous spirit, he exemplified ‘continuing in the Lord with heartfelt resolve.’