Feeling Secure Now—Being Secure Forever
WHY is security often elusive and, if found, temporary? Could it be that our sense of security is based on imagination—on what we hope to attain rather than on what is attainable? Such a delusion might be called living in a dream world.
Imagination allows the mind to leave the reality of life with its insecurities and to enter a beautiful, secure condition, dismissing anything that may spoil the dream. Often, though, the problems of the real world suddenly intrude on this dream world and mercilessly obliterate the feeling of well-being, awakening the dreamer to sober reality.
Let us look at one area where people seek security—geographic location. For example, the big city may look promising, triggering visions of good times, large paychecks, and fancy living quarters. Yes, that could seem to offer long-awaited security. But is this vision realistic?
Location—Big City or Big Dreams?
In developing countries, the lure of the big city is promoted by advertising that may tempt eager imaginations. Organizations behind such advertising are not necessarily interested in your security but, rather, in their sales. They gloss over problems of the real world with scenes of success depicting security. Thus, security becomes associated with their advertised product and the big city.
Consider the following example. Officials in one West African city put up billboards vividly illustrating that smoking is in reality no different from burning up hard-earned money. That was part of a campaign to warn its citizens against smoking. Cigarette manufacturers and sellers countered by posting cleverly designed billboards that showed smokers in eye-appealing scenes of happiness and success. In addition, one cigarette company dressed up some of its employees in fancy uniforms and flashy baseball caps to distribute cigarettes to young people on the street, encouraging each one to “try it.” Many of these young ones had come from villages and, naive to slick advertising schemes, fell for this invitation. They became addicted smokers. The young villagers had come to the big city to seek security in order to support their families or to get ahead financially. Instead, they were burning up much of the money they could have used for better purposes.
Advertisements portraying a successful life in the big city do not always originate with merchants. They may come from the mouths of people who have moved to the big city and who are embarrassed to return to their home village. Not wanting to appear to be failures, they brag about supposed wealth and achievements they have found in the city. A closer examination of their claimed status, however, reveals that their present life-style is not an improvement over their former village life; they are struggling financially like most other city dwellers.
It is especially in large cities that the newly arrived security seekers fall prey to the unscrupulous. Why? By and large, they have not had time to develop close friendships and are far away from family members. So they have no advisers who might help them to avoid the pitfalls of materialistic urban living.
Josué did not fall into the trap of smoking. Furthermore, he came to realize that the demands of city life were far beyond his capacity to handle successfully. In his case, at best, the only thing that the city could really offer him was big, unfulfilled dreams. He recognized that he did not have genuine security in the city; he just did not belong there. Feelings of emptiness, inferiority, and failure took over, and he eventually swallowed his pride and returned to the village.
He had been fearful that he would be mocked. Instead, his family and real friends welcomed him home with open arms. Thanks to the warmth of his family, the familiar surroundings of the village, and the love of his friends in the Christian congregation, he soon felt much more secure than in the big city, where the dreams of many turn into nightmares. To his surprise, working hard with his father in the fields actually brought him and his family a higher income than his net gain would have been in the city.
Money—What Is the Real Problem?
Will money give you a feeling of security? Liz from Canada states: “As a young person, I believed that money brought freedom from worry.” She fell in love with a man who was financially secure. Soon they married. Did she feel secure? Liz continues: “When I married, we had a beautiful home and two cars, and our financial situation allowed us freedom to enjoy virtually anything in the way of material things, travel, and recreation. Oddly enough, I still worried about money.” She explains why: “We had so much to lose. It seems that the more you have, the less secure you feel. Money did not bring freedom from worry or anxiety.”
If you feel that you do not have enough money to be secure, ask yourself, ‘What is the real problem? Is it really a lack of money, or is it a lack of wise money management?’ Reflecting on her past, Liz says: “I now realize that the source of my family’s problems when I was a child was poor money management. We purchased on credit, and therefore we always had a debt hanging over our heads. This brought anxiety.”
Today, however, Liz and her husband feel much more secure, although they have less money. When they learned the truth of God’s Word, they stopped listening to enticing claims about money and began listening to God’s wisdom, including these words: “As for the one listening to me, he will reside in security and be undisturbed from dread of calamity.” (Proverbs 1:33) They wanted their life to have more meaning than a large bank account could give. Now, as missionaries in a distant land, Liz and her husband are teaching rich and poor people alike that Jehovah God will soon bring about genuine security earth wide. This activity provides deep satisfaction and stability that stem from a superior purpose and surpassing values, not from financial gain.
Remember this basic truth: Being rich with God is far more valuable than having material riches. Throughout the Sacred Scriptures, the emphasis is placed, not on possessing material riches, but on having a good standing with Jehovah, one that we can maintain by continually doing the divine will in faith. Christ Jesus encouraged us to be “rich toward God” and to store up “treasure in the heavens.”—Luke 12:21, 33.
Position—Where Are You Going?
If you are tempted to feel that climbing the social ladder is the way to security, ask yourself: ‘Who on the ladder is actually at the point of real security? How much higher must I climb to attain it?’ A successful career may give you a false sense of security, leading to disappointment or, worse, a disastrous fall.
Actual experiences show that a good name with God affords much more security than a name with man. Only Jehovah can grant humans the gift of life eternal. That involves writing our name, not in some social directory, but in God’s book of life.—Exodus 32:32; Revelation 3:5.
When you put wishful thinking aside, how do you appraise your present situation, and what can you honestly expect from the future? No one has everything. As one wise Christian put it, “I had to learn that life is never this AND that but this OR that.” Stop for a moment and read the box “Told in Benin.”
Now answer these questions: What is an important destination, or goal, in my life? What is the most direct route to get there? Could it be that I am on a long, insecure detour and that what I really want and what is realistically possible can be attained by a less complicated route?
After giving counsel on the relative value of material things compared with the value of spiritual things, Jesus said to keep the eye “simple,” or “in focus.” (Matthew 6:22; footnote) He made clear that the main things in life are spiritual values and goals that center on God’s name and on his Kingdom. (Matthew 6:9, 10) Other things are less important or, as it were, out of focus.
Many cameras today focus automatically on things both far and near. Are you inclined to be like that? Is almost everything that you view “in focus”—that is, important, desirable and, with some wishful thinking, attainable? If this is even partially so, the important object for Christians, the Kingdom, can easily be lost in a clutter of other images, each vying for your attention. Jesus’ strong admonition was: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.”—Matthew 6:33.
Secure Now and Forever
We may all dream of better things for ourselves and our loved ones. However, the fact that we are imperfect, live in an imperfect world, and have a limited life span forces us to limit the things we can realistically hope to attain. A Bible writer explained thousands of years ago: “I returned to see under the sun that the swift do not have the race, nor the mighty ones the battle, nor do the wise also have the food, nor do the understanding ones also have the riches, nor do even those having knowledge have the favor; because time and unforeseen occurrence befall them all.”—Ecclesiastes 9:11.
Sometimes we become so consumed by the daily grind of life that we forget to look at the larger picture of who we are and what we really need in order to feel genuinely secure. Consider these ancient words of wisdom: “If you love money, you will never be satisfied; if you long to be rich, you will never get all you want. It is useless. A working man may or may not have enough to eat, but at least he can get a good night’s sleep. A rich man, however, has so much that he stays awake worrying.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10, 12, Today’s English Version) Yes, where does your security lie?
If your situation is somewhat similar to Josué’s unrealistic dream, can you change your plans? Those who really love you will be supportive, just as Josué’s family and friends in the Christian congregation were. You may find greater security in humble surroundings together with those who love you than in the city with those who may try to take advantage of you.
If you already have an abundance, as did Liz and her husband, can you adjust your life-style to channel more time and energy into helping people, whether rich or poor, to learn about the Kingdom, the means of gaining real security?
If you have been climbing the social or corporate ladder, you might want to reflect honestly on what is motivating you. Granted, some conveniences at your disposal may add enjoyment to life. Yet, are you able to keep the Kingdom—the true means of attaining permanent security—in focus? Recall Jesus’ words: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) If you involve yourself in the various activities in the Christian congregation, you will experience rewarding security.
Those putting full trust in Jehovah and his Kingdom thrive in a heartwarming security now and look forward to complete security in the future. The psalmist said: “I have placed Jehovah in front of me constantly. Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be made to totter. Therefore my heart does rejoice, and my glory is inclined to be joyful. Also, my own flesh will reside in security.”—Psalm 16:8, 9.
[Box/Picture on page 6]
Told in Benin
This story has been told thousands of times with many variations. Recently, one senior villager in Benin, West Africa, related the following version to some younger ones.
The fisherman returns home in his pirogue and is met by a foreign expert serving in this developing country. The expert asks the fisherman why he is back so early. He replies that he could have stayed out longer but that he had caught enough to care for his family.
“And now, what do you do with all your time anyway?” the expert asks.
The fisherman responds: “Well, I do a little fishing. I play with my children. We all have a siesta when it gets hot. In the evening, we have supper together. Later, I get together with my friends for some music, and so on.”
The expert interrupts: “Look, I have a university degree and have studied these matters. I want to help you. You should stay out fishing longer. You would earn more and soon be able to purchase a bigger boat than this pirogue. With a bigger boat, you would earn still more and soon be able to build up a fleet of trawlers.”
“And then?” the fisherman inquires.
“Then, instead of selling fish through a middleman, you could negotiate directly with the factory or even start your own fish-processing plant. You would be able to leave your village and move to Cotonou, or Paris, or New York and run the whole thing from there. You could even consider putting your business on the stock market and earn millions.”
“How long would that all take?” the fisherman asks.
“Perhaps 15 to 20 years,” the expert answers.
“And then?” the fisherman continues.
“That is when life gets interesting,” the expert explains. “Then you could retire. You could move away from the hustle and bustle of it all to some remote village.”
“And what then?” asks the fisherman.
“Then you have time to do a little fishing, play with your children, have a siesta when it gets hot, have supper with the family, and get together with friends for some music.”
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Does promotion bring security?
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Your fellow Christians are truly interested in your security