Does God really care about you?
What is God like? Does he have a name?
Is it possible to get close to God?
1, 2. Why is it often good to ask questions?
HAVE you ever noticed the way children ask questions? Many start asking as soon as they learn to speak. With wide, eager eyes, they look up at you and ask such things as: Why is the sky blue? What are the stars made of? Who taught the birds to sing? You may try hard to answer, but it is not always easy. Even your best answer may lead to yet another question: Why?
2 Children are not the only ones who ask questions. As we grow up, we keep asking. We do this in order to find our way, to learn of dangers that we need to avoid, or to satisfy our curiosity. But many people seem to stop asking questions, especially the most important ones. At least, they stop searching for the answers.
3. Why do many stop trying to find answers to the questions that matter most?
3 Think about the question on the cover of this book, the questions raised in the preface, or those at the beginning of this chapter. These are some of the most important questions you can ask. Yet, many people have given up trying to find the answers. Why? Does the Bible have the answers? Some feel that its answers are too hard to understand. Others worry that asking questions could lead to shame or embarrassment. And some decide that such questions are best left to religious leaders and teachers. What about you?
4, 5. What are some of the most important questions we can ask in life, and why should we seek the answers?
4 Very likely you are interested in getting answers to life’s big questions. No doubt you sometimes wonder: ‘What is the purpose of life? Is this life all there is? What is God really like?’ It is good to ask such questions, and it is important that you do not give up until you find satisfying, reliable answers. The famous teacher Jesus Christ said: “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you.”—Matthew 7:7.
5 If you “keep on seeking” for answers to the important questions, you will find that the search can be very rewarding. (Proverbs 2:1-5) Despite what other people may have told you, there are answers, and you can find them—in the Bible. The answers are not too hard to understand. Better yet, they bring hope and joy. And they can help you to live a satisfying life right now. To begin, let us consider a question that has troubled many people.
IS GOD UNCARING AND HARDHEARTED?
6. Why do many people think that God is uncaring when it comes to human suffering?
6 Many people think that the answer to that question is yes. ‘If God cared,’ they reason, ‘would not the world be a very different place?’ We look around and see a world full of war, hatred, and misery. And as individuals, we get sick, we suffer, we lose loved ones in death. Thus, many say, ‘If God cared about us and our problems, would he not prevent such things from happening?’
7. (a) How have religious teachers led many to think that God is hardhearted? (b) What does the Bible really teach about the trials we may suffer?
7 Worse yet, religious teachers sometimes lead people to think that God is hardhearted. How so? When tragedy strikes, they say that it is God’s will. In effect, such teachers blame God for the bad things that happen. Is that the truth about God? What does the Bible really teach? James 1:13 answers: “When under trial, let no one say: ‘I am being tried by God.’ For with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone.” So God is never the source of the wickedness you see in the world around you. (Read Job 34:10-12.) Granted, he does allow bad things to happen. But there is a big difference between allowing something to happen and causing it.
8, 9. (a) How might you illustrate the difference between allowing wickedness to exist and causing it? (b) Why would it be unfair for us to find fault with God’s decision to allow mankind to pursue a wayward course?
8 For example, think about a wise and loving father with a grown son who is still living at home with his parents. When the son becomes rebellious and decides to leave home, his father does not stop him. The son pursues a bad way of life and gets into trouble. Is the father the cause of his son’s problems? No. (Luke 15:11-13) Similarly, God has not stopped humans when they have chosen to pursue a bad course, but he is not the cause of the problems that have resulted. Surely, then, it would be unfair to blame God for all the troubles of mankind.
9 God has good reasons for allowing mankind to follow a bad course. As our wise and powerful Creator, he does not have to explain his reasons to us. Out of love, however, God does this. You will learn more about these reasons in Chapter 11. But rest assured that God is not responsible for the problems we face. On the contrary, he gives us the only hope for a solution!—Isaiah 33:2.
10. Why can we trust that God will undo all the effects of wickedness?
10 Furthermore, God is holy. (Isaiah 6:3) This means that he is pure and clean. There is no trace of badness in him. So we can trust him completely. That is more than we can say for humans, who sometimes become corrupt. Even the most honest human in authority often does not have the power to undo the damage that bad people do. But God is all-powerful. He can and will undo all the effects that wickedness has had on mankind. When God acts, he will do so in a way that will end evil forever!—Read Psalm 37:9-11.
HOW DOES GOD FEEL ABOUT INJUSTICES WE FACE?
11. (a) How does God feel about injustice? (b) How does God feel about your suffering?
11 In the meantime, how does God feel about what is going on in the world and in your life? Well, the Bible teaches that God “loves justice.” (Psalm 37:28) So he cares deeply about what is right and what is wrong. He hates all kinds of injustice. The Bible says that God’s “heart was saddened” when badness filled the world in times past. (Genesis 6:5, 6) God has not changed. (Malachi 3:6) He still hates to see the suffering that is taking place worldwide. And God hates to see people suffer. “He cares for you,” the Bible says.—Read 1 Peter 5:7.
12, 13. (a) Why do we have good qualities such as love, and how does love affect our view of the world? (b) Why can you be sure that God will really do something about world problems?
12 How can we be sure that God hates to see suffering? Here is further proof. The Bible teaches that man was made in the image of God. (Genesis 1:26) We thus have good qualities because God has good qualities. For example, does it bother you to see innocent people suffer? If you care about such injustices, be assured that God feels even more strongly about them.
13 One of the best things about humans is our ability to love. That also reflects God. The Bible teaches that “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) We love because God loves. Would love move you to end the suffering and the injustice you see in the world? If you had the power to do that, would you do it? Of course you would! You can be just as sure that God will end suffering and injustice. The promises mentioned in the preface of this book are not mere dreams or idle hopes. God’s promises are sure to come true! In order to put faith in such promises, though, you need to know more about the God who has made them.
GOD WANTS YOU TO KNOW WHO HE IS
14. What is God’s name, and why should we use it?
14 If you want someone to get to know you, what might you do? Would you not tell the person your name? Does God have a name? Many religions answer that his name is “God” or “Lord,” but those are not personal names. They are titles, just as “king” and “president” are titles. The Bible teaches that God has many titles. “God” and “Lord” are among them. However, the Bible also teaches that God has a personal name: Jehovah. Psalm 83:18 says: “You, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.” If your Bible translation does not contain that name, you may want to consult the Appendix article “The Divine Name—Its Use and Its Meaning” to learn why that is so. The truth is that God’s name appears thousands of times in ancient Bible manuscripts. So Jehovah wants you to know his name and to use it. In a sense, he is using the Bible to introduce himself to you.
15. What does the name Jehovah mean?
15 God gave himself a name that is full of meaning. His name, Jehovah, means that God can fulfill any promise he makes and can carry out any purpose he has in mind. * God’s name is unique, one of a kind. It belongs only to him. In a number of ways, Jehovah is unique. How is that so?
16, 17. What may we learn about Jehovah from the following titles: (a) “the Almighty”? (b) “King of eternity”? (c) “Creator”?
16 We saw that Psalm 83:18 said of Jehovah: “You alone are the Most High.” Similarly, Jehovah alone is referred to as “the Almighty.” Revelation 15:3 says: “Great and wonderful are your works, Jehovah God, the Almighty. Righteous and true are your ways, King of eternity.” The title “the Almighty” teaches us that Jehovah is the most powerful being there is. His power is unmatched; it is supreme. And the title “King of eternity” reminds us that Jehovah is unique in another sense. He alone has always existed. Psalm 90:2 says: “From everlasting to everlasting, you are God.” That thought inspires awe, does it not?
17 Jehovah is also unique in that he alone is the Creator. Revelation 4:11 reads: “You are worthy, Jehovah our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they came into existence and were created.” Everything that you can think of—from the invisible spirit creatures in heaven to the stars that fill the night sky to the fruit that grows on the trees to the fish that swim in the oceans and rivers—all of it exists because Jehovah is the Creator!
CAN YOU BE CLOSE TO JEHOVAH?
18. Why do some people feel that they could never get close to God, but what does the Bible teach?
18 Reading about Jehovah’s awe-inspiring qualities makes some people feel a little uneasy. They fear that God is too high for them, that they could never get close to him or even matter to such a lofty God. But is this idea correct? The Bible teaches just the opposite. It says of Jehovah: “In fact, he is not far off from each one of us.” (Acts 17:27) The Bible even urges us: “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.”—James 4:8.
19. (a) How can we begin to draw close to God, and with what benefit? (b) What qualities of God are most appealing to you?
19 How can you draw close to God? To begin with, continue doing what you are doing now—learning about God. Jesus said: “This means everlasting life, their coming to know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) Yes, the Bible teaches that learning about Jehovah and Jesus leads to “everlasting life”! As already noted, “God is love.” (1 John 4:16) Jehovah also has many other beautiful and appealing qualities. For example, the Bible says that Jehovah is “a God merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and abundant in loyal love and truth.” (Exodus 34:6) He is “good and ready to forgive.” (Psalm 86:5) God is patient. (2 Peter 3:9) He is loyal. (Revelation 15:4) As you read more in the Bible, you will see how Jehovah has shown that he has these and many other appealing qualities.
20-22. (a) Does our inability to see God prevent us from getting close to him? Explain. (b) What may some well-meaning people urge you to do, but what should you do?
20 True, you cannot see God because he is an invisible Spirit. (John 1:18; 4:24; 1 Timothy 1:17) By learning about him through the pages of the Bible, however, you can come to know him as a Person. As the psalmist said, you can “gaze upon the pleasantness of Jehovah.” (Psalm 27:4; Romans 1:20) The more you learn about Jehovah, the more real he will become to you and the more reason you will have to love him and feel close to him.
21 You will come to understand why the Bible teaches us to think of Jehovah as our Father. (Matthew 6:9) Not only does our life come from him but he wants the best life possible for us—just as any loving father would want for his children. (Psalm 36:9) The Bible also teaches that humans can become Jehovah’s friends. (James 2:23) Imagine—you can become a friend of the Creator of the universe!
22 As you learn more from the Bible, you may find that some well-meaning people will urge you to stop such studies. They may worry that you will change your beliefs. But do not let anyone stop you from forming the best friendship you can ever have.
23, 24. (a) Why should you continue to ask questions about what you are learning? (b) What is the subject of the next chapter?
23 Of course, there will be things that you do not understand at first. It can be a little humbling to ask for help, but do not hold back because of embarrassment. Jesus said that it is good to be humble, like a little child. (Matthew 18:2-4) And children, as we know, ask a lot of questions. God wants you to find the answers. The Bible praises some who were eager to learn about God. They checked carefully in the Scriptures to make sure that what they were learning was the truth.—Read Acts 17:11.
24 The best way to learn about Jehovah is to examine the Bible. It is different from any other book. In what way? The next chapter will consider that subject.