“Faith is the assured expectation of what is hoped for.”
SONGS: 81, 134
1, 2. (a) How are the things we hope for different from the things other people hope for? (b) What will we discuss in this article?
JEHOVAH has given us wonderful things to hope for. He has promised to sanctify his name and to cause his will to be done in heaven and on earth. (Matthew 6:9, 10) Those are the most important things we look forward to. Jehovah has also promised to reward us with everlasting life, either in heaven or on earth. How wonderful that will be! (John 10:16; 2 Peter 3:13) And we look forward to seeing how Jehovah will continue to guide and support his people in these last days.
2 The Bible says that faith is “the assured expectation” of what we hope for. This means that those who have faith are absolutely sure that the things Jehovah has promised will come true. (Hebrews 11:1) On the other hand, many people today hope and wish for things, but they cannot be sure that those things will ever come true. For example, someone may hope to win the lottery, but he cannot be at all sure that he will win it. In this article, we will see what we can do to strengthen our faith in God’s promises. We will also discuss how strong faith can help us now.
3. Why do we have faith that God’s promises will come true?
3 None of us are born with faith. To have faith, we need to allow God’s holy spirit to guide our hearts. (Galatians 5:22) Holy spirit can help us to get to know Jehovah. When we understand that he is almighty and wise, we become confident that he has the ability to do all that he promises. Jehovah himself refers to his promises as if they have already happened and says: “They have come to pass!” (Read Revelation 21:3-6.) We know that Jehovah always does what he promises. He is “the faithful God.” That is why we believe everything he tells us about the future.
SERVANTS OF GOD IN THE PAST WHO HAD STRONG FAITH
4. What did God’s servants in the past have faith in?
4 Hebrews chapter 11 tells us the names of 16 men and women who had strong faith in Jehovah’s promises. It also mentions many others who pleased Jehovah “because of their faith.” (Hebrews 11:39) All of them were waiting for the “offspring” whom Jehovah had promised. They knew that this “offspring” would destroy all of God’s enemies and make the earth a paradise again. (Genesis 3:15) And these servants of God had strong faith that Jehovah would bring them back to life. Of course, they did not look forward to being resurrected to life in heaven, since Jesus had not yet made that possible. (Galatians 3:16) Instead, they looked forward to living forever on earth in a beautiful paradise.
5, 6. What did Abraham and his family look forward to? How did they keep their faith strong? (See opening picture.)
5 Hebrews 11:13 says about these faithful servants of Jehovah: “In faith all of these died, although they did not receive the fulfillment of the promises; but they saw them from a distance and welcomed them.” They looked forward to the new world and imagined themselves living there. One of them was Abraham. Jesus said that Abraham “rejoiced greatly at the prospect of seeing” that time. (John 8:56) Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, and many others also looked forward to the time when the Kingdom, “whose designer and builder is God,” would rule over the whole earth.
6 How did Abraham and his family keep their faith strong? They continued learning about Jehovah. At times, God spoke to them by means of angels, visions, or dreams. They probably also learned from faithful older ones or from older writings. Abraham and his family never forgot God’s promises, and they loved meditating on them. As a result, they had no doubt that Jehovah would keep his promises. So they stayed loyal to him even when they suffered difficulties or persecution.
7. What has Jehovah given us to strengthen our faith, and what do we need to do?
7 What will help us to keep our faith strong? Jehovah has given us the Bible to teach us about his promises for the future. In it, he shows us what we need to do to be happy. That is why it is good for us to read the Bible every day and follow its guidance. (Psalm 1:1-3; read Acts 17:11.) Jehovah also gives us “food at the proper time” by means of “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45) Just like God’s people in the past, we regularly need to read about God’s promises and meditate deeply on them. This will help us stay loyal to God and keep looking forward to the time when his Kingdom will rule over the whole earth.
When we see how Jehovah answers our prayers, our faith in him gets stronger
8. How can prayer strengthen our faith?
8 What else helped Jehovah’s people in the past to keep their faith strong? They prayed to Jehovah for help, and when they saw that he answered their prayers, their faith became stronger. (Nehemiah 1:4, 11; Psalm 34:4, 15, 17; Daniel 9:19-21) In the same way, when we see that Jehovah has heard our prayers and has given us exactly what we need at the right time, our faith in him becomes stronger. (Read 1 John 5:14, 15.) We also need to “keep on asking” Jehovah to give us his holy spirit so that we can have more faith.
9. What are some things we should pray about?
9 When we pray to Jehovah, we should not just ask him to give us what we need. We should also thank him and praise him every day. After all, he has done so many wonderful things! (Psalm 40:5) Jehovah’s people also pray for their brothers around the world. For example, we “keep in mind those in prison.” We also pray for “those who are taking the lead.” When we see how Jehovah answers our prayers, our faith in him gets stronger and we draw closer to him.
THEY REMAINED LOYAL
10. What helped many to be courageous and stay loyal to God?
10 In Hebrews chapter 11, the apostle Paul said: “Women received their dead by resurrection, but other men were tortured because they would not accept release by some ransom, in order that they might attain a better resurrection.” (Hebrews 11:35) Many endured trials and stayed loyal to God because they had strong faith in the resurrection that God had promised. They knew that in the future, Jehovah would bring them back to life and that they would live forever on earth. Think of Naboth and Zechariah. They were stoned to death for obeying God. (1 Kings 21:3, 15; 2 Chronicles 24:20, 21) Daniel was thrown into a pit of hungry lions, and his friends were thrown into a scorching fire. They were willing to die rather than be disloyal to Jehovah. These men had strong faith that Jehovah would give them his holy spirit and help them to endure those sufferings.
God’s servants stay loyal to him because they have strong faith in the resurrection that God has promised
11. What trials did some of the prophets endure because of their faith?
11 Many prophets, such as Micaiah and Jeremiah, were mocked or put in prison. Others, like Elijah, “wandered about in deserts and mountains and caves and dens of the earth.” All of these endured trials and stayed loyal to God because they had an “assured expectation of what is hoped for.”
12. Who is the best example we can imitate? What helped him to endure trials?
12 Jesus Christ endured the most difficult trial of all and stayed loyal to Jehovah. What helped him to endure? Paul said: “For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Paul then encouraged Christians to “consider closely” the example of Jesus. (Read Hebrews 12:3.) Like Jesus, many Christians in the first century died because they were loyal to Jehovah. One of these was Antipas. (Revelation 2:13) Such Christians have already received their reward, unlike other servants of God before them who looked forward to life on earth. (Hebrews 11:35) Sometime after Jesus became King in 1914, anointed Christians who had died were resurrected to immortal life in heaven, and they will rule with him over mankind.
SERVANTS OF GOD TODAY WHO HAVE STRONG FAITH
13, 14. What trials did Rudolf Graichen endure, and what helped him to stay loyal to God?
13 Millions of servants of God are following Jesus’ example. They meditate on God’s promises and remain loyal to him during trials. Consider Rudolf Graichen, who was born in Germany in 1925. When he was young, his parents hung pictures of Bible scenes in their home. He said: “One picture showed the wolf and the lamb, the kid and the leopard, the calf and the lion
14 Rudolf endured many other trials. His mother died of typhus in the Ravensbrück concentration camp. His father signed a document in which he said that he was no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But Rudolf kept his faith strong. After he was released from prison, he served as a circuit overseer. Then he was invited to Gilead School and was assigned to Chile, where he again served as a circuit overseer. There he married a missionary sister, Patsy. But sadly, a year later, their baby daughter died. Sometime after that, Patsy also died. She was only 43 years old. Despite all these trials, Rudolf continued serving Jehovah. Even when he was older and did not have good health, he served as a regular pioneer and an elder. We can read his life story in the August 1, 1997, issue of The Watchtower, pages 20-25.  (See endnote.)
15. Give some examples of brothers and sisters today who serve Jehovah with joy even though they are persecuted.
15 Today, many of our brothers and sisters serve Jehovah with joy even though they are harshly persecuted. Hundreds of them are imprisoned in Eritrea, Singapore, and South Korea because they refuse to “take up the sword.” (Matthew 26:52) For example, Isaac, Negede, and Paulos have been in an Eritrean prison for over 20 years! There they have been cruelly treated. And during all these years, they have not been able to get married or take care of their parents. Yet, they are loyal to Jehovah, and their faith is strong. Even their prison guards now respect them. There is a picture of these brothers on the jw.org website. They are smiling, even though they are suffering.
16. What can strong faith help you to do?
16 Most of Jehovah’s people have not been put in prison or treated harshly like our brothers who were just mentioned. But many have suffered because of poverty, natural disasters, or civil wars. Others have followed the example of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses and have given up fame or riches to focus on serving Jehovah. What helps our brothers to remain happy serving Jehovah? Their love for him and their strong faith in his promises. They know that he will reward his faithful servants with eternal life in the new world, where there will be no injustice.
17. How will you keep your faith strong, and what will we discuss in the next article?
17 In this article, we have seen how faith is “the assured expectation of what is hoped for.” To have such faith, we need to pray to Jehovah and keep meditating on his promises. Then we will be able to endure any trial. The next article will discuss more about what it means to have faith.
^  (paragraph 14) See also the life story of Andrej Hanák from Slovakia in the article “Despite Trials, My Hope Has Remained Bright” in the April 22, 2002, issue of Awake!