“I trust in you, O Jehovah.”—PS. 31:14.
SONG 122 Be Steadfast, Immovable!
1. How do we know that Jehovah wants to be close to us?
JEHOVAH invites us to be close to him. (Jas. 4:8) He wants to be our God, our Father, and our Friend. He answers our prayers and helps us during difficult times. And he uses his organization to teach us and protect us. But what must we do to draw close to Jehovah?
2. How can we draw close to Jehovah?
2 We can draw close to Jehovah by praying to him and by reading his Word and meditating on it. As we do, we are filled with love and appreciation for him. We are motivated to give him the obedience and praise that he so richly deserves. (Rev. 4:11) The more we get to know Jehovah, the more we will trust in him and the organization that he has provided to help us.
3. How does the Devil try to separate us from Jehovah, but what will help us never to abandon our God and his organization? (Psalm 31:13, 14)
3 The Devil, however, tries to separate us from Jehovah, especially when we are facing challenges. What is his strategy? He tries little by little to undermine our trust in Jehovah and his organization. But we can resist his tactics. When our faith is strong and our trust in Jehovah is unshakable, we will not abandon our God and his organization.—Read Psalm 31:13, 14.
4. What will we discuss in this article?
4 In this article, we will discuss three challenges that may come from outside the congregation; each one could undermine our trust in Jehovah and his organization. How could these challenges separate us from Jehovah? And what can we do to counteract Satan’s efforts?
WHEN WE EXPERIENCE HARDSHIPS
5. How could hardships undermine our trust in Jehovah and his organization?
5 At times, we face hardships—such as family opposition or the loss of our job. How could such hardships undermine our trust in Jehovah’s organization and separate us from him? When we endure adversity for a long time, we may feel hopeless and downhearted. Satan takes advantage of such opportunities and seeks to get us to doubt Jehovah’s love for us. The Devil wants us to question whether Jehovah or His organization is responsible for our suffering. Something similar happened to some of the Israelites in Egypt. At first they believed that Jehovah had appointed Moses and Aaron to deliver them from slavery. (Ex. 4:29-31) But later when Pharaoh made their lives harder, they blamed Moses and Aaron for their problems, telling them: “You have made Pharaoh and his servants despise us and you have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” (Ex. 5:19-21) They blamed God’s loyal servants. How sad! If you have been enduring hardships for a long time, how can you keep your trust in Jehovah and his organization strong?
6. What do we learn from the prophet Habakkuk about how to cope with hardships? (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
6 Pour out your heart to Jehovah in prayer, and look to him for support. The prophet Habakkuk faced many hardships. At one point, he seems to have doubted whether Jehovah cared about him. So he poured out his feelings to Jehovah in prayer. He said: “How long, O Jehovah, must I cry for help, but you do not hear? . . . Why do you tolerate oppression?” (Hab. 1:2, 3) Jehovah responded to the heartfelt prayer of his loyal servant. (Hab. 2:2, 3) After meditating on Jehovah’s saving acts, Habakkuk was filled with renewed joy. He became convinced that Jehovah cared for him and would help him endure any trial. (Read Habakkuk 3:17-19.) What is the lesson for us? When you face hardships, pray to Jehovah and tell him how you feel. Then look to him for support. When you do, you can be confident that Jehovah will give you the strength you need to endure. And when you feel his support, your faith in him will grow stronger.
7. Of what did Shirley’s relatives try to convince her, and what kept her from losing faith in Jehovah?
7 Maintain your spiritual routine. Consider how doing so helped Shirley, a sister in Papua New Guinea, when she faced hardships. b Shirley’s family was poor and, at times, struggled to obtain enough food. A relative tried to undermine her trust in Jehovah. He said: “You say that God’s holy spirit is helping you, but where is the help? The family is still poor. You are wasting your time preaching.” Shirley admits: “I asked myself: ‘Does God care about us or not?’ So I immediately prayed to Jehovah and told him everything that was on my mind. I kept up with reading the Bible and our publications, and I continued to preach and attend meetings.” She soon began to realize that Jehovah was looking after her family. Her family did not go hungry, and they were happy. Shirley says: “I felt that Jehovah was answering my prayers.” (1 Tim. 6:6-8) If you stick to your spiritual routine, you too will not allow hardships or doubts to separate you from Jehovah.
WHEN RESPONSIBLE BROTHERS ARE MISTREATED
8. What may happen to responsible brothers in Jehovah’s organization?
8 By means of the media and social networks, our enemies spread lies or misinformation about responsible brothers in Jehovah’s organization. (Ps. 31:13) Some brothers have been arrested and charged as criminals. The first-century Christians faced a similar situation when the apostle Paul was wrongfully accused and arrested. How did they react?
9. How did some Christians react when the apostle Paul was imprisoned?
9 Some Christians in the first century stopped supporting the apostle Paul when he was imprisoned in Rome. (2 Tim. 1:8, 15) Why? Were they ashamed of Paul because the public viewed him as a criminal? (2 Tim. 2:8, 9) Or were they intimidated, fearing that they too would be persecuted? Whatever their reason, imagine how Paul must have felt. He had endured many hardships and had even risked his life for them. (Acts 20:18-21; 2 Cor. 1:8) May we never become like those who abandoned Paul during his time of need! What should we keep in mind when responsible brothers are persecuted?
10. What should we remember when responsible brothers are persecuted, and why?
10 Remember why we are persecuted and who causes it. Second Timothy 3:12 states: “All those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.” So we should not be surprised that Satan targets responsible brothers in his attacks. His intent is that such attacks will break their integrity and intimidate us.—1 Pet. 5:8.
11. What do we learn from the example of Onesiphorus? (2 Timothy 1:16-18)
11 Continue to support your brothers and loyally stick to them. (Read 2 Timothy 1:16-18.) A first-century Christian named Onesiphorus reacted differently when Paul was imprisoned. “He did not become ashamed of [Paul’s] prison chains.” Rather, Onesiphorus searched for Paul, and when he found him, he looked for practical ways to support him. In doing so, Onesiphorus risked his own life. What is the lesson for us? We must not let fear of man intimidate us or prevent us from supporting our brothers who are being persecuted. Instead, let us defend them and come to their aid. (Prov. 17:17) They need our love and support.
12. What do we learn from our brothers and sisters in Russia?
12 Consider how our brothers and sisters in Russia have come to the aid of their dear fellow believers who are imprisoned. When some are put on trial, many brothers and sisters come to the court to support them. What is the lesson for us? When responsible brothers are defamed, arrested, or persecuted, do not become intimidated. Pray for them, care for their family members, and look for other practical ways to show your support.—Acts 12:5; 2 Cor. 1:10, 11.
WHEN WE ARE RIDICULED
13. How can ridicule undermine our trust in Jehovah and his organization?
13 Unbelieving relatives, workmates, or schoolmates may ridicule us for our preaching work or for living by Jehovah’s high moral standards. (1 Pet. 4:4) They may say: “I like you as a person, but your religion is too strict and out of touch with reality.” Some may criticize us for how we deal with disfellowshipped ones, saying: “How can you call yourself a loving person?” Comments like these can plant seeds of doubt in our mind. We may begin to wonder: ‘Is Jehovah expecting too much of me? Is his organization too restrictive?’ If you are facing such a situation, how can you stay close to Jehovah and his organization?
14. How should we react when others ridicule us for living by Jehovah’s standards? (Psalm 119:50-52)
14 Be determined to uphold Jehovah’s standards. Job was a man who upheld Jehovah’s standards despite being ridiculed for doing so. One of Job’s so-called friends even tried to convince him that it did not matter to God whether Job followed His standards or not. (Job 4:17, 18; 22:3) But Job refused to believe such lies. He knew that Jehovah’s standards of right and wrong are correct, and he was determined to uphold them. He did not allow others to take away his integrity. (Job 27:5, 6) What is the lesson for us? Do not let ridicule cause you to question Jehovah’s standards. Think back on your own experience. Have you not seen time and again that Jehovah’s standards are right and that they benefit you? Be determined to support the organization that upholds those standards. Then no amount of ridicule from any source will ever separate you from Jehovah.—Read Psalm 119:50-52.
15. Why was Brizit ridiculed?
15 Consider the experience of Brizit, a sister in India. She was ridiculed by family members because of her faith. Shortly after her baptism in 1997, her unbelieving husband lost his job. So he decided that he, Brizit, and their daughters should move in with his parents, who lived in another city. But Brizit would face even greater challenges. Because her husband was unemployed, she would have to work full-time to support her family. Additionally, the nearest congregation was about 350 kilometers (220 mi) away. Sadly, her husband’s family opposed her because of her faith. The situation became so critical that Brizit’s family had to move again. Then, unexpectedly, her husband died. Later, one of her daughters died of cancer at just 12 years of age. To make matters worse, Brizit’s relatives blamed her for these events. They claimed that if she had not become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, all those tragedies would not have happened. Still, she kept trusting in Jehovah and remained close to his organization.
16. How was Brizit blessed for sticking close to Jehovah and his organization?
16 Since Brizit lived so far away from the congregation, a circuit overseer encouraged her to preach in her local area and to conduct meetings in her home. At first, she felt overwhelmed. But she followed the direction. She shared the good news with others, held meetings in her home, and set aside time for family worship with her daughters. What was the result? Brizit was able to start and conduct many Bible studies, and a number of her students got baptized. In 2005 she began serving as a regular pioneer. Her trust in Jehovah and her loyalty to his organization were rewarded. Her daughters are faithfully serving Jehovah, and there are now two congregations in that area! Brizit is convinced that Jehovah gave her the strength to cope with her hardships and to endure ridicule from her family.
REMAIN LOYAL TO JEHOVAH AND HIS ORGANIZATION
17. What should we be resolved to do?
17 Satan wants us to believe that Jehovah abandons us during our hardships and that supporting Jehovah’s organization will only make life more difficult for us. Satan wants us to feel intimidated when responsible brothers are slandered, persecuted, or imprisoned. And by means of ridicule, he wants to undermine our trust in Jehovah’s standards and His organization. However, we are well-aware of his evil tactics and we are not fooled. (2 Cor. 2:11) Be resolved to reject Satan’s lies and to remain loyal to Jehovah and His organization. Remember, Jehovah will never abandon you. (Ps. 28:7) Therefore, let nothing separate you from Jehovah!—Rom. 8:35-39.
18. What will we discuss in the next article?
18 In this article, we discussed challenges that we may face from outside of the congregation. But our trust in Jehovah and his organization can also be put to the test by challenges that come from within the congregation. How can we successfully deal with such challenges? We will discuss this in the next article.
SONG 118 “Give Us More Faith”