Jehovah Is “the Provider of Escape” for Us
“Jehovah will help them and provide them with escape.”—PS. 37:40.
1, 2. What fundamental truth about Jehovah is a source of comfort and strength for us?
SHADOWS created by the sun do not remain still. As the earth moves, the shadows are ever shifting and changing. The Creator of earth and sun, however, does not change. (Mal. 3:6) “With him,” the Bible says, “there is not a variation of the turning of the shadow.” (Jas. 1:17) This fundamental truth about Jehovah is truly a source of comfort and strength for us, especially when we face difficult trials and challenges. Why?
2 As we noted in the preceding article, Jehovah proved to be “the Provider of escape” in Bible times. (Ps. 70:5) He is unchanging and true to his word; hence, his worshippers today have every reason to trust in him to “help them and provide them with escape.” (Ps. 37:40) How has Jehovah provided escape for his servants in modern times? How may he do so for us personally?
Delivered From Opposers
3. Why can we be sure that opposers will not stop Jehovah’s people from preaching the good news?
3 No amount of satanic opposition will ever prevent Jehovah’s Witnesses from giving Jehovah the exclusive worship that he deserves. God’s Word assures us: “Any weapon whatever that will be formed against you will have no success, and any tongue at all that will rise up against you in the judgment you will condemn.” (Isa. 54:17) Opposers have tried but failed to prevent God’s people from carrying out their commission to preach. Consider two examples.
4, 5. Jehovah’s people faced what opposition in 1918, and with what result?
4 In 1918, Jehovah’s people faced a wave of clergy-inspired persecution aimed at silencing their preaching work. On May 7, federal warrants were issued for the arrest of J. F. Rutherford, who was overseeing the worldwide preaching work at that time, and for a number of others at headquarters. Within two months, Brother Rutherford and his associates were unjustly convicted of conspiracy and given long prison sentences. Had opposers succeeded in using the courts to cripple the preaching work permanently? Of course not!
5 Remember Jehovah’s promise: “Any weapon . . . formed against you will have no success.” In a dramatic turn of events, on March 26, 1919—nine months after Brother Rutherford and his associates were sentenced—the imprisoned brothers were released on bail. The following year, on May 5, 1920, the charges against them were dropped. The brothers used their freedom to press on with the Kingdom work. With what result? Why, phenomenal increase has taken place since then! All credit for what has resulted goes to “the Provider of escape.”—1 Cor. 3:7.
6, 7. (a) What campaign against Jehovah’s Witnesses was waged in Nazi Germany, and with what outcome? (b) The modern-day history of Jehovah’s people bears testimony to what fact?
6 Now consider a second example. In 1934, Hitler vowed to exterminate Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany. That was no empty threat. Widespread arrests and imprisonments followed. Thousands of Witnesses were victimized; hundreds were killed in concentration camps. Did Hitler succeed in his campaign to eradicate the Witnesses? Did he stop all preaching of the good news in Germany? By no means! During the persecution, our brothers carried on the preaching work underground. After the collapse of the Nazi regime, they used their freedom to continue preaching. Today, there are over 165,000 Kingdom publishers in Germany. Again, “the Provider of escape” has proved true to his promise: “Any weapon . . . formed against you will have no success.”
7 The modern history of Jehovah’s Witnesses provides proof that Jehovah will never allow the extermination of his people as a group. (Ps. 116:15) What, though, about us as individuals? How does Jehovah provide escape for us personally?
What About Physical Protection?
8, 9. (a) How do we know that our immediate physical protection is not guaranteed? (b) What must we realistically acknowledge?
8 As individuals, we know that our immediate physical protection is not guaranteed. We take the position expressed by the three faithful Hebrews who refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s image of gold. Those God-fearing young men did not presume that Jehovah would miraculously protect them from physical harm. (Read Daniel 3:17, 18.) As matters turned out, Jehovah did deliver them from the flames of the fiery furnace. (Dan. 3:21-27) Even in Bible times, however, miraculous deliverance was the exception rather than the rule. Many faithful servants of Jehovah died at the hands of opposers.—Heb. 11:35-37.
9 What about today? As “the Provider of escape,” Jehovah certainly can deliver individuals from perilous situations. Can we definitively say whether Jehovah did or did not intervene in specific cases? No. Still, an individual who has escaped a dangerous situation may feel that Jehovah intervened. It would be presumptuous for others to take issue with his feeling. At the same time, we must realistically acknowledge that many faithful Christians have died as a result of persecution, as was the case during the Nazi era. Others have died under tragic circumstances. (Eccl. 9:11) We might ask, ‘Did Jehovah fail to be “the Provider of escape” for faithful ones whose lives were cut short?’ That could hardly be the case.
10, 11. Why is man helpless in the face of death, but what can Jehovah do about it?
10 Consider this: Man is helpless in the face of death, for no human can “provide escape for his soul from the hand of Sheol,” or Hades, mankind’s common grave. (Ps. 89:48) What, though, about Jehovah? One sister who survived the period of Nazi terror recalls what her Witness mother once told her to comfort her over the loss of loved ones in the concentration camps: “If death would keep mankind perpetually in its bonds, it would be stronger than God, wouldn’t it?” Surely, death is no match for the all-powerful Source of life! (Ps. 36:9) All those in Sheol, or Hades, are in Jehovah’s memory, and he will provide escape for each and every one of them.—Luke 20:37, 38; Rev. 20:11-14.
11 Meanwhile, Jehovah is directly involved in the lives of his faithful worshippers today. Let us now consider three ways in which he certainly is “the Provider of escape” for us.
12, 13. Why is spiritual protection of utmost importance, and how does Jehovah provide such for us?
12 Jehovah offers us spiritual protection, which is of utmost importance. Being true Christians, we understand that there is something that is more valuable than our present life. Our most precious possession is our personal relationship with Jehovah. (Ps. 25:14; 63:3) Without that relationship, our present life would have little meaning and our future life prospects would be lost.
13 Thankfully, Jehovah gives us all the help we need to maintain a close relationship with him. We have his Word, his holy spirit, and his worldwide congregation to help us. How can we take full advantage of these provisions? By regularly and diligently studying his Word, we will strengthen our faith and brighten our hope. (Rom. 15:4) By sincerely praying for his spirit, we will receive help to resist the temptation to engage in questionable conduct. (Luke 11:13) By keeping up with the direction the slave class provides through Bible-based publications as well as at meetings, assemblies, and conventions, we will be nourished with spiritual “food at the proper time.” (Matt. 24:45) Such provisions protect us spiritually and help us to stay close to God.—Jas. 4:8.
14. Relate an experience that highlights spiritual protection.
14 To highlight such spiritual protection, recall the parents mentioned at the outset of the preceding article. A few days after their daughter, Theresa, was reported missing, they received devastating news: She had been murdered. * The father recalls: “I had prayed for Jehovah to protect her. When she was found murdered, I must admit that I initially wondered why my prayers were not answered. Of course, I know that Jehovah does not guarantee miraculous protection for his people individually. I continued to pray for understanding. I have been comforted in the knowledge that Jehovah protects his people spiritually—that is, he provides what we need in order to safeguard our relationship with him. That type of protection is most important, for it can affect our eternal future. In that sense, Jehovah did protect Theresa; she was serving him faithfully at the time of her death. I have found peace in knowing that her future life prospects are in his loving hands.”
Sustained Through Illness
15. In what ways may Jehovah help us when we are beset by illness?
15 Jehovah can sustain us “upon a divan of illness,” as he did David. (Ps. 41:3) Although Jehovah is not in our time providing escape in the sense of miraculous healing, he does help us. How? The principles found in his Word may aid us in making wise decisions about treatment and other matters. (Prov. 2:6) We may glean helpful information and practical suggestions from articles published in The Watchtower and Awake! that discuss our particular health problem. By means of his spirit, Jehovah may grant us “the power beyond what is normal” to cope with our situation and to maintain our integrity, regardless of what may happen. (2 Cor. 4:7) With such help, we can avoid becoming so overwhelmed by our illness that we lose our spiritual focus.
16. How has one brother managed to cope with illness?
16 Consider the young brother referred to at the beginning of the preceding article. In 1998, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, which finally left him totally paralyzed. * How has he managed to cope with his illness? He explains: “I have had moments of pain and frustration when I have felt that death would be my only means of escape. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I pray that Jehovah give me three things: a calm heart, patience, and endurance. I feel that Jehovah has answered those prayers. A calm heart lets me reflect on comforting thoughts, such as what it will be like in the new world when I will be able to walk, enjoy a tasty meal, and talk with my family again. Patience helps me to put up with the inconveniences and challenges of paralysis. Endurance enables me to keep faithful and not lose my spiritual balance. I can truly identify with the psalmist David, for I feel that Jehovah has sustained me upon my divan of illness.”—Isa. 35:5, 6.
Supplied With Sustenance
17. What has Jehovah promised to do for us, and what does this promise mean?
17 Jehovah promises to care for us materially. (Read Matthew 6:33, 34 and Hebrews 13:5, 6.) That does not mean that we may leave the providing of material needs to chance or that we should refuse to work. (2 Thess. 3:10) What that promise does mean is this: If we seek God’s Kingdom first in our life and are willing to work for a living, we can count on Jehovah to help us to obtain life’s necessities. (1 Thess. 4:11, 12; 1 Tim. 5:8) He can provide what we need in ways that we might not expect, perhaps through a fellow worshipper who comes to our aid or offers us work.
18. Relate an experience that shows that we may be provided for in times of need.
18 Recall the single mother mentioned in the introduction to the preceding article. When she and her young daughter moved to a new area, she had difficulty finding a job. She explains: “I would go out in the field service in the morning, and I would spend every afternoon looking for work. I remember one day when I went to the grocery store to buy some milk. I stood and looked at the vegetables, but I did not have enough money to buy any. I have never felt so depressed in my life. When I returned home from the store that day, my back porch was filled with bags of all kinds of vegetables. There was enough food there to sustain us for months. I just cried, and I thanked Jehovah.” This sister soon learned that the bags had been left by a brother in the congregation who grew the vegetables in his garden. She later wrote to him: “Even though I thanked you very much that day, I also thanked Jehovah for using your kindness to remind me of his love.”—Prov. 19:17.
19. At the great tribulation, Jehovah’s servants will have what confidence, and what should we be determined to do now?
19 Clearly, what Jehovah has done in Bible times as well as in our day gives us reason to trust in him as our Helper. Soon, when the great tribulation comes upon Satan’s world, we will need Jehovah’s help as never before. Yet, Jehovah’s servants will be able to look to him with complete confidence. They will be able to lift their heads and rejoice, knowing that their deliverance is near. (Luke 21:28) In the meantime, no matter what trials may come upon us, let us be determined to place our trust in Jehovah, having full assurance that our unchanging God is, indeed, our “Provider of escape.”
^ par. 14 See the article “Coping With an Unspeakable Tragedy,” in Awake! of July 22, 2001, pages 19-23.
^ par. 16 See the article “Sustained by My Faith—Living With ALS,” in Awake! of January 2006, pages 25-29.
Do You Recall?
• How can Jehovah provide escape for those whose life has been cut short?
• Why is spiritual protection of utmost importance?
• What does Jehovah’s promise to care for us materially mean?
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Arrested in 1918, Brother Rutherford and his associates were later released, and the charges against them were dropped
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Jehovah can sustain us upon “a divan of illness”