IMAGINE that you are walking on the street late at night. Suddenly you realize that someone is following you. When you stop walking, the person behind you also stops. When you walk faster, so does he. You start to run to a friend’s house nearby. When your friend opens the door and welcomes you in, you are relieved because now you know you are safe.
Perhaps you have not had the experience mentioned above. But likely you have other anxieties in life that cause you to worry. For example, are you struggling with a weakness that you would like to overcome but you keep making the same mistake? Have you been unemployed for a long time and unable to find a job despite all the efforts you make to find one? Are you worried about getting older and facing health issues in the future? Or is there something else that concerns you?
Whatever problem you may have, it is good to have a friend to whom you can tell your worries and who is willing to help you. Do you have such a close friend? Yes, you do! Jehovah is such a friend to you, just as he was to the faithful man Abraham, as noted at Isaiah 41:8-13. In verses 10 and 13, Jehovah promises each one of us: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be anxious, for I am your God. I will fortify you, yes, I will help you, I will really hold on to you with my right hand of righteousness. For I, Jehovah your God, am grasping your right hand, the One saying to you, ‘Do not be afraid. I will help you.’”
“I WILL REALLY HOLD ON TO YOU”
Jehovah’s words are very comforting. Try to imagine what Jehovah is actually promising us. The verse does not say that you are walking next to Jehovah holding his hand. If you were walking next to him, Jehovah’s right hand would be holding your left hand. Instead, Jehovah holds out his “right hand of righteousness” and grabs “your right hand,” as if he were pulling you out of a difficult situation. When Jehovah grabs your right hand, he strengthens you by saying: “Do not be afraid. I will help you.”
Do you see Jehovah as your loving Father and Friend? Do you believe that he will help you when you experience difficulties? Jehovah really cares for you and wants to help you. When you have problems and difficulties, Jehovah wants you to feel safe. Why? Because he loves you very much. He is truly “a help that is readily found in times of distress.”
WHEN WE FEEL GUILTY ABOUT PAST MISTAKES
Some keep remembering their past mistakes and wonder whether God has forgiven them. If you feel that way, think of the faithful man Job. He admitted that he sinned when he was young. (Job 13:26) The psalmist David also felt that way and begged Jehovah: “Do not remember the sins of my youth and my transgressions.” (Psalm 25:7) Because we are imperfect, all of us “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
The comforting words in Isaiah chapter 41 were written for the Israelites. Their sins were so serious that Jehovah said he would punish them by having them exiled to Babylon. (Isaiah 39:6, 7) At the same time, God promised that he would free those who would repent and return to him! (Isaiah 41:8, 9; 49:8) Jehovah shows the same love and mercy today toward those who sincerely repent and want to please him.
Consider the experience of Takuya, * who was trying to overcome the unclean habits of watching pornography and practicing masturbation. Many times, he gave in to his habit. How did he feel? “I felt that I was totally unworthy, but when I approached Jehovah in prayer to beg for his forgiveness, he would pick me up from my fallen state.” How did Jehovah do that? Elders in Takuya’s congregation told him to call them on the phone whenever he gave in to his habit. He admits: “It was not easy to call them, but whenever I did, I was strengthened.” Then the elders arranged for the circuit overseer to visit Takuya. The circuit overseer told him: “I am not here by coincidence. I am here because the elders wanted me to be here. They chose you to receive this shepherding visit.” Takuya says: “I was the one sinning, yet Jehovah, through the elders, extended help to me.” Eventually, Takuya stopped his bad habits, became a regular pioneer, and is now serving at a branch office. Just as God helped this brother, he will help you when you make mistakes.
WHEN WE ARE ANXIOUS ABOUT WORK
Some feel anxious because they have lost their job and cannot find another one. Imagine how difficult it is to be rejected by one employer after another. When some experience this difficult situation, they feel worthless. How might Jehovah help you? He may not immediately give you an ideal job, but he can help you to remember David’s words: “I was once young and now I am old, but I have not seen anyone righteous abandoned, nor his children looking for food.” (Psalm 37:25, footnote.) Jehovah views you as precious, and he gives you his “right hand of righteousness” so that you will have what you need to keep on serving him.
Sara, who lives in Colombia, saw how Jehovah was able to help her. She made a lot of money working full-time for a well-known and respected company. But she wanted to do more in Jehovah’s service, so she quit her job and started to pioneer. However, it was difficult for her to find the part-time job she needed. She set up a small ice-cream shop but gradually ran out of money and had to close the business. She says, “Three long years passed, but thanks to Jehovah, I was able to endure.” She learned what things she really needed and how to avoid being anxious about the next day. (Matthew 6:33, 34) Eventually, her former boss called and offered her the same job that she had before. She said that she would accept work only if it was part-time and only if she was allowed to take time off for meetings, assemblies, and conventions. Today, Sara does not earn as much money as she used to, but she is able to continue pioneering. She says that during that difficult time, she felt the loving hand of Jehovah.
WHEN WE ARE ANXIOUS ABOUT GETTING OLD
Many feel anxious because they are getting old and will soon retire. They wonder if they will have enough money to live comfortably. They also worry about health issues that may arise in the future. It was probably King David who begged Jehovah: “Do not cast me off in my old age; do not abandon me when my strength fails.”
How can older ones feel confident about the future? They need to keep strengthening their faith in God and to trust that he will give them everything they need. However, some enjoyed luxuries when they had more money, so they may need to learn to live a simpler life and be satisfied with having less. They may even realize that eating “a dish of vegetables” instead of “a fattened bull” may be better for their health! (Proverbs 15:17) If you are focused on serving Jehovah, he will make sure that you have everything you need when you are old.
Think about José and Rose, who have served Jehovah full-time for more than 65 years. During that time, they have had many challenges. They cared for Rose’s father, who needed help night and day. Also, José had to endure cancer surgery and chemotherapy. How did Jehovah give his right hand to this faithful couple? He used another Christian couple, Tony and Wendy. They had an apartment that they wanted to offer to full-time pioneers free of charge. Tony remembered that when he was in high school, he would look out the window and see José and Rose regularly preaching in the ministry. Tony loved the zeal they showed, and it made a big impression on him. Because José and Rose had spent their whole lives serving Jehovah, Tony and Wendy offered the apartment to them. For the past 15 years, they have helped José and Rose, who are now about 85 years old. José and Rose feel that Tony and Wendy are a gift from Jehovah.
Jehovah promises you: “Do not be afraid. I will help you.” He is offering his “right hand of righteousness” to you too. Will you hold out your hand to him?
^ par. 11 Some names have been changed.