Awaiting Jehovah’s Day With Endurance
“Supply to your faith . . . endurance.”—2 PETER 1:5, 6.
1, 2. What is endurance, and why do Christians need it?
JEHOVAH’S great day is very near. (Joel 1:15; Zephaniah 1:14) As Christians determined to maintain our integrity to God, we eagerly await that time when Jehovah’s sovereignty will be vindicated. Meanwhile, we face hatred, reproach, persecution, and death for our faith. (Matthew 5:10-12; 10:22; Revelation 2:10) This calls for endurance—the ability to withstand adversity. The apostle Peter urges us: “Supply to your faith . . . endurance.” (2 Peter 1:5, 6) We need endurance, for Jesus said: “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.”—Matthew 24:13.
2 We also experience illness, bereavement, and other trials. How pleased Satan would be if our faith were to give out! (Luke 22:31, 32) With Jehovah’s support, we can endure various trials. (1 Peter 5:6-11) Consider some real-life experiences that prove that we can wait for Jehovah’s day with endurance and undiminished faith.
Illness Has Not Stopped Them
3, 4. Give an example to show that we can serve Jehovah faithfully despite illness.
3 God does not now cure us miraculously, but he does give us the fortitude to endure illness. (Psalm 41:1-3) “For as long as I can recall,” said Sharon, “the wheelchair has been my constant companion. From birth on, cerebral palsy robbed me of childhood joys.” Learning about Jehovah and his promises of perfect health gave Sharon hope. Although she speaks and walks with difficulty, she finds joy in the Christian ministry. Some 15 years ago, she said: “My health may continue to fail, but my trust in God and my relationship with him are my lifelines. How happy I am to be among Jehovah’s people and to have his unfailing support!”
4 The apostle Paul urged Christians in Thessalonica to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14) Such factors as grave disappointment can cause depression. In 1993, Sharon wrote: “Feeling like an utter failure, I . . . plunged into a three-year period of deep depression. . . . Comfort and counsel came from the elders. . . . Through The Watchtower, Jehovah tenderly provided insight into severe depression. Yes, he does care for his people and understands our feelings.” (1 Peter 5:6, 7) Sharon is still serving God faithfully as she awaits Jehovah’s great day.
5. What proof is there that Christians can endure considerable stress?
5 Some Christians suffer considerable stress because of past experiences in life. Harley saw heavy combat in World War II and had nightmares about warfare. While asleep, he would scream: “Watch out! Look out!” Upon awakening, he would be soaking wet with perspiration. However, he was able to pursue a godly life, and in time the intensity and frequency of such dreams diminished.
6. How did one Christian face emotional problems?
6 One Christian diagnosed with bipolar disorder found it very difficult to preach from door to door. He persisted, however, because he realized that the ministry means life for him and for those responding favorably. (1 Timothy 4:16) Sometimes he could not bring himself to the point of ringing the doorbell, but he said: “After a while, I would be able to bring my emotions under control, go to the next door, and try again. By continuing to share in the ministry, I maintained reasonable spiritual health.” Attending meetings was also a challenge, but this brother was convinced of the value of spiritual association. Therefore, he made the effort required to be present.—Hebrews 10:24, 25.
7. Although some are afraid to speak in public or to attend a meeting, how do they show endurance?
7 Some Christians have phobias—excessive fears of certain situations or objects. For instance, they may be afraid to speak in public or even to attend a meeting. Imagine how hard it is for them to comment at Christian meetings or to give a talk in the Theocratic Ministry School! Yet, they are enduring, and we greatly appreciate their presence and participation.
8. What is especially effective when coping with emotional difficulties?
8 More rest and sleep may help a person to endure emotional difficulties. Medical help may be advisable. Especially effective, however, is prayerful reliance on God. “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you,” says Psalm 55:22. “Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.” By all means, then, “trust in Jehovah with all your heart.”—Proverbs 3:5, 6.
9-11. (a) What can help us to endure sorrow when a loved one dies? (b) How can Anna’s example help us to endure bereavement?
9 When death separates family members, such great loss can result in deep sorrow. Abraham wept over the death of his beloved wife, Sarah. (Genesis 23:2) Even the perfect man Jesus “gave way to tears” when his friend Lazarus died. (John 11:35) So it is natural to experience sadness when death claims someone you love. However, Christians know that there will be a resurrection. (Acts 24:15) Hence, they do not “sorrow just as the rest also do who have no hope.”—1 Thessalonians 4:13.
10 How can we cope with bereavement? Perhaps an illustration will be helpful. We do not usually experience prolonged sadness when a friend goes on a journey, since we expect to see him again when he returns. Taking a similar view of the death of a faithful Christian may lessen our grief because we know that he is in line for a resurrection.—Ecclesiastes 7:1.
11 Complete reliance on “the God of all comfort” will help us to endure bereavement. (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4) So will reflecting on what was done by the first-century widow Anna. She became a widow after only seven years of marriage. But at the age of 84, she was still rendering sacred service to Jehovah at the temple. (Luke 2:36-38) Such a devout life undoubtedly helped her to cope with grief and loneliness. Regular participation in Christian activities, including the Kingdom-preaching work, can help us to endure the effects of bereavement.
Dealing With Various Trials
12. Some Christians have endured what trial related to family life?
12 Some Christians must endure trials related to family life. For instance, if a mate commits adultery, what devastating effects that can have! Because of the shock and grief, the betrayed marriage partner may be unable to sleep and may weep uncontrollably. Performing simple tasks may be so stressful that mistakes are made or accidents occur. The innocent mate may be unable to eat, may lose weight, and may become emotionally troubled. It may be difficult to engage in Christian activities. And how greatly the children may be affected!
13, 14. (a) What encouragement do you get from Solomon’s prayer at the inauguration of the temple? (b) Why do we pray for holy spirit?
13 When we experience such trials, Jehovah provides the help we need. (Psalm 94:19) God hears the prayers of his people, as shown in King Solomon’s prayer at the inauguration of Jehovah’s temple. Solomon prayed to God: “Whatever prayer, whatever request for favor there may occur on the part of any man or of all your people Israel, because they know each one the plague of his own heart, and they actually spread out their palms to this house, then may you yourself hear from the heavens, your established place of dwelling, and you must forgive and act and give to each one according to all his ways, because you know his heart (for you yourself alone well know the heart of all the sons of mankind); to the end that they may fear you all the days that they are alive upon the surface of the ground that you gave to our forefathers.”—1 Kings 8:38-40.
14 It can be especially helpful to keep on praying for holy spirit. (Matthew 7:7-11) The fruitage of the spirit includes such qualities as joy and peace. (Galatians 5:22, 23) What relief is felt when our heavenly Father answers our prayers—joy replaces grief, and peace takes the place of anguish!
15. What scriptures can help to allay our anxiety?
15 A certain amount of anxiety is to be expected when we must endure great stress. But at least some of this concern may be allayed if we bear in mind these words of Jesus: “Stop being anxious about your souls as to what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your bodies as to what you will wear. ... Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and [God’s] righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25, 33, 34) The apostle Peter urges us to ‘throw all our anxiety upon God, because he cares for us.’ (1 Peter 5:6, 7) It is proper to make efforts to solve a problem. After we have done what we can, however, worry cannot take the place of prayer. “Roll upon Jehovah your way, and rely upon him, and he himself will act,” sang the psalmist.—Psalm 37:5.
16, 17. (a) Why are we not entirely free of anxiety? (b) What will we experience if we apply Philippians 4:6, 7?
16 Paul wrote: “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6, 7) Naturally, imperfect descendants of Adam cannot be totally free of anxiety. (Romans 5:12) The Hittite wives of Esau “were a source of bitterness of spirit” to Esau’s godly parents, Isaac and Rebekah. (Genesis 26:34, 35) Illness must have caused anxiety for such Christians as Timothy and Trophimus. (1 Timothy 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:20) Paul had anxiety for fellow believers. (2 Corinthians 11:28) But the “Hearer of prayer” is always there for those who love him.—Psalm 65:2.
17 As we await Jehovah’s day, we have support and comfort from “the God of peace.” (Philippians 4:9) Jehovah is “merciful and gracious,” he is “good and ready to forgive,” and ‘he remembers that we are dust.’ (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 86:5; 103:13, 14) So let us ‘make our petitions known to him,’ for this will result in our having “the peace of God”—tranquillity that surpasses human comprehension.
18. As noted at Job 42:5, how is it possible to “see” God?
18 When our prayers are answered, we know that God is with us. After Job endured his trials, he said: “In hearsay I have heard about you [Jehovah], but now my own eye does see you.” (Job 42:5) With the eye of understanding, faith, and gratitude, we can reflect on God’s dealings with us and can “see” him as never before. How such intimacy brings us peace of heart and mind!
19. What will happen if we ‘throw all our anxiety on Jehovah’?
19 If we ‘throw all our anxiety on Jehovah,’ we can endure trials with an inner calm that guards our heart and mental powers. Deep in our figurative heart, we will experience freedom from uneasiness, fear, and alarm. Our mind will not be unsettled by perplexity or anxiety.
20, 21. (a) Stephen’s case provides what evidence of tranquillity when experiencing persecution? (b) Cite a modern-day example of calmness when enduring trials.
20 The disciple Stephen displayed tranquillity when enduring a severe test of his faith. Before he gave a final witness, all those in the Sanhedrin “saw that his face was as an angel’s face.” (Acts 6:15) His countenance was tranquil—like that of an angel, a messenger of God. After Stephen exposed their guilt in Jesus’ death, the judges “felt cut to their hearts and began to gnash their teeth at him.” “Full of holy spirit,” Stephen “gazed into heaven and caught sight of God’s glory and of Jesus standing at God’s right hand.” Strengthened by that vision, Stephen proved faithful to death. (Acts 7:52-60) Although we do not have visions, we can have God-given tranquillity when persecuted.
21 Consider the sentiments of certain Christians who suffered death at Nazi hands during World War II. Relating his experience in court, one said: “The death sentence was decreed. I listened, and then after I had spoken the words, ‘Be thou faithful unto death,’ and a few other words of our Lord, it was all over. . . . But never mind that now. For I have such peace, such tranquillity, that you can’t possibly imagine!” A young Christian facing death by beheading wrote his parents: “It is already past midnight. I still have time to change my mind. Ah! could I be happy again in this world after I had denied our Lord? Surely not! But now you have the assurance that I leave this world in happiness and peace.” There is no doubt that Jehovah supports his loyal servants.
You Can Endure!
22, 23. Of what can you be sure as you await Jehovah’s day with endurance?
22 You may not face certain challenges we have considered. Yet, God-fearing Job was right when he said: “Man, born of woman, is short-lived and glutted with agitation.” (Job 14:1) Perhaps you are a parent who is working hard to give your children spiritual guidance. They must endure trials at school, but how happy you are when they take a firm stand for Jehovah and his righteous principles! Possibly you are experiencing hardships and temptations in the workplace. These and other situations can be endured, however, because ‘Jehovah daily carries the load for you.’—Psalm 68:19.
23 You may think of yourself as just an average person, but bear in mind that Jehovah will never forget your work and the love you show for his holy name. (Hebrews 6:10) With his help, you can endure tests of faith. So keep the doing of God’s will in your prayers and plans. Then you can be confident of divine blessing and support as you await Jehovah’s day with endurance.
How Would You Respond?
• Why do Christians need endurance?
• What can help us to endure illness and bereavement?
• How does prayer help us to endure trials?
• Why is it possible to await Jehovah’s day with endurance?
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Reliance on Jehovah enables us to endure bereavement
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Heartfelt prayer helps us to endure tests of faith