“It is the foolishness of an earthling man that distorts his way, and so his heart becomes enraged against Jehovah himself.”
1, 2. Why should we not blame Jehovah for mankind’s problems? Illustrate.
LET us say that you have been a happily married man for many years. But one day when you return home, you find that everything in your house has been turned upside down. The furniture has been smashed, the crockery shattered, the carpet ruined beyond repair. Your treasured home has become a disaster zone. Would you blurt out, “Why did my wife do this?” Or would you be more likely to ask, “Who did this?” No doubt the second question would immediately come to your mind. Why? Because you know that your cherished mate would not be the cause of such a wanton act of vandalism.
2 Today, we see mankind’s home marred by pollution, violence, and immorality. As Bible students, we know that Jehovah cannot possibly be the cause of all these problems. He created this planet to be a delightful paradise. (Gen. 2:8, 15) Jehovah is a God of love. (1 John 4:8) Our study of the Scriptures has helped us to identify the real cause of many of the world’s difficulties. It is none other than Satan the Devil, “the ruler of the world.”
3. How may our thinking become distorted?
3 However, we cannot blame Satan for all our woes. Why not? Because some of our problems are the result of our own mistakes. (Read Deuteronomy 32:4-6.) Even though we might admit that fact, our imperfect nature can distort our thinking and cause us to go down a path that eventually leads to disaster. (Prov. 14:12) In what way? Instead of blaming ourselves or Satan for a problem, we could start to blame Jehovah. We might even become “enraged against Jehovah himself.”
4, 5. How could a Christian become “enraged against Jehovah”?
4 Is it really possible that we could become “enraged against Jehovah”? Surely to do so would be futile. (Isa. 41:11) What would we hope to gain? A poet once said: “Your arm’s too short to box with God.” We may never go so far as to vocalize a complaint against Jehovah. But Proverbs 19:3 says that a man’s foolishness “distorts his way, and so his heart becomes enraged against Jehovah himself.” Yes, a person can become enraged against God in his heart. This attitude could manifest itself in subtle ways. An individual could, as it were, hold a grudge against Jehovah. As a result, that person might withdraw from the congregation or not fully support arrangements for Jehovah’s worship.
5 What could prompt us to be “enraged against Jehovah”? How can we avoid that trap? It is vital that we know the answers to these questions. Why, our very relationship with Jehovah God is involved!
WHAT COULD PROMPT US TO BECOME “ENRAGED AGAINST JEHOVAH”?
6, 7. Why did the Israelites in Moses’ time start to complain about Jehovah?
6 What could cause the heart of a faithful servant of Jehovah to start to complain about his God? Let us consider five factors and analyze Bible examples that highlight how some in the past fell into this trap.
7 The negative speech of others can influence us. (Read Deuteronomy 1:26-28.) The Israelites had just been delivered from slavery in Egypt. Jehovah had miraculously brought ten plagues on that oppressive nation and thereafter destroyed Pharaoh and his military force in the Red Sea. (Ex. 12:29-32, 51; 14:29-31; Ps. 136:15) God’s people were poised to enter the Promised Land. Yet, at that crucial moment, the Israelites started to complain about Jehovah. What caused this lack of faith? Their hearts melted because of the negative report of some who had been sent to spy out the land. (Num. 14:1-4) What resulted? A whole generation was not allowed to enter into that “good land.” (Deut. 1:34, 35) Could we at times allow the negative speech of others to weaken our faith and cause us to grumble about Jehovah’s dealings with us?
8. What caused God’s people in Isaiah’s day to start to blame Jehovah for their situation?
8 Hardships and difficulties may discourage us. (Read Isaiah 8:21, 22.) In Isaiah’s day, the nation of Judah found themselves in dire straits. They were surrounded by enemies. Food was scarce. Many were hungry. But more important, there was a spiritual famine. (Amos 8:11) Instead of looking to Jehovah for help in dealing with these hardships, however, they started to “call down evil” on their king and on their God. Yes, they blamed Jehovah for their problems. If we are beset by tragedy or personal problems, might we likewise say in our heart, ‘Where was Jehovah when I needed him?’
9. Why did the Israelites in Ezekiel’s day develop a wrong viewpoint?
9 We do not know all the facts. Because of not having all the facts, the Israelites in Ezekiel’s day felt that Jehovah’s way was “not adjusted right.” (Ezek. 18:29) It was as if they had set themselves up as judges of God, putting their own standards of justice above Jehovah’s and judging him based on their own limited understanding of events. If we at times do not fully understand a Bible account or the way events develop in our own life, could we perhaps feel in our heart that the way of Jehovah is unfair, “not adjusted right”?
10. How could someone follow Adam’s wrong example?
10 We shift the blame for our own sins and mistakes. Right at the beginning of human history, Adam blamed God for his own sin. (Gen. 3:12) Although Adam deliberately and with full knowledge of the consequences broke God’s law, he blamed Jehovah. In effect, he said that Jehovah had given him a bad wife. Since that time, others have followed Adam’s example of blaming God for their own mistakes. We do well to ask, ‘Could disappointment and frustration over my mistakes cause me to be dissatisfied with Jehovah’s standards?’
11. What lesson can we learn from Jonah?
11 We become too self-centered. The prophet Jonah had a problem with Jehovah’s merciful decision regarding Nineveh. (Jonah 4:1-3) Why? He apparently became too concerned about losing face when his proclamation of destruction did not come true. Jonah allowed concern over his reputation to overshadow any compassion he should have felt for the repentant Ninevites. Could we likewise become so self-centered that we become “enraged against Jehovah” for not bringing the end sooner? If we have been preaching for decades that Jehovah’s day is close, could we start to become impatient with Jehovah when others criticize us for proclaiming what the Bible says?
HOW TO AVOID BECOMING “ENRAGED AGAINST JEHOVAH”
12, 13. If in our heart we start to question some of Jehovah’s activities, what must we not neglect?
12 What can we do if our sinful heart starts to question some of Jehovah’s activities? Remember that it is unwise to do so. Another translation of Proverbs 19:3 says: “A man’s ignorance muddles his affairs and he flies out against Jehovah.” (Byington) With that in mind, let us now consider five factors that will help us never to allow the frustrations of life to make us blame Jehovah.
13 Do not neglect your relationship with Jehovah. We can avoid the imperfect tendency to become enraged against God if we maintain a close relationship with him. (Read Proverbs 3:5, 6.) We need to trust in Jehovah. We also need to avoid becoming wise in our own eyes or becoming self-centered. (Prov. 3:7; Eccl. 7:16) We will then be less likely to blame Jehovah when bad things happen.
14, 15. What will help us not to be affected by the negative speech of others?
14 Do not allow negative speech to affect you. The Israelites in Moses’ day had ample reason to believe that Jehovah would successfully usher them into the Promised Land. (Ps. 78:43-53) But when faced with the negative report of the ten unfaithful spies, they did not “remember his hand.” (Ps. 78:42) If we meditate on Jehovah’s activities, remembering all the good things he has done for us, we will strengthen our relationship with him. As a result, we will not allow the negative ideas of others to drive a wedge between us and Jehovah.
15 What if we have a negative attitude toward our fellow worshippers? Under such circumstances, our relationship with Jehovah can be affected. (1 John 4:20) When the Israelites questioned Aaron’s appointment and position, Jehovah viewed that action as murmuring against Him. (Num. 17:10) Similarly, if we were to start grumbling and murmuring about those whom Jehovah is using to direct the earthly part of his organization, we could by inference be complaining about Jehovah.
16, 17. What do we need to remember when we are having problems?
16 Remember that Jehovah does not cause our problems. Though the Israelites in Isaiah’s day had turned away from Jehovah, He still wanted to help them. (Isa. 1:16-19) No matter what problem we may face, we can find comfort in knowing that Jehovah cares for us and wants to help us. (1 Pet. 5:7) In fact, he promises to provide us with the strength needed to keep on enduring.
17 If we are suffering some form of injustice
18, 19. Why should we never doubt Jehovah? Illustrate.
18 Never doubt Jehovah. God is perfect, and his thoughts are higher than ours. (Isa. 55:8, 9) So humility and modesty should help us to admit that we are limited in our understanding. (Rom. 9:20) Rarely do we have all the facts about a certain situation. No doubt, you have experienced the truthfulness of this proverb: “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.”
19 If we have a trusted friend who does something that we might not at first understand or that we feel is unusual, will we be quick to accuse him of some wrongdoing? Or will we be inclined to give our friend the benefit of the doubt, especially if we have known that person for many years? If we deal with our imperfect friends in such a loving manner, how much more should we be inclined to trust our heavenly Father, whose ways and thoughts are much higher than ours!
20, 21. Why is it important for us to lay the blame where it belongs?
20 Lay the blame where it belongs. Why should we do so? Well, we may be responsible for some of our problems. If we are, we need to acknowledge that fact. (Gal. 6:7) Do not try to blame Jehovah for the problems. Why would such a course be unreasonable? Consider this example: A car may be capable of traveling at a high speed. Imagine that a driver greatly exceeds the recommended speed limit when traveling around a sharp curve and he crashes. Should the manufacturer of the car be held accountable for the accident? No, of course not! Similarly, Jehovah has created us with free will. But he has also provided us with guidelines on how to make wise decisions. So why would we blame our Creator for our own mistakes?
21 Of course, not all our problems are a result of our personal mistakes and wrong actions. Some events take place as a result of “time and unforeseen occurrence.” (Eccl. 9:11) Ultimately, though, let us never lose sight of the fact that Satan the Devil is the primary cause of wickedness. (1 John 5:19; Rev. 12:9) He is the enemy
TREASURE YOUR PRECIOUS RELATIONSHIP WITH JEHOVAH
22, 23. What should we remember if we become discouraged because of our problems?
22 When you are undergoing hardship and difficulties, remember the example of Joshua and Caleb. Unlike the ten other spies, these two faithful men brought back a positive report. (Num. 14:6-9) They showed faith in Jehovah. Even so, they had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years along with the rest of the Israelites. Did Joshua and Caleb complain or become bitter, feeling that this was unfair? No. They trusted in Jehovah. Were they blessed? Absolutely! Whereas a whole generation died in the wilderness, both of these men eventually entered the Promised Land. (Num. 14:30) Similarly, we will receive Jehovah’s blessing if we do not “tire out” in doing his will.
23 If you are discouraged because of problems, the imperfections of others, or your own imperfections, what should you do? Focus on Jehovah’s marvelous qualities. Visualize the hope that Jehovah has given you. Ask yourself, ‘Where would I be without Jehovah?’ Always remain close to him, and never allow your heart to become enraged against him!