IMAGINE that you are walking on the street late at night. Suddenly you sense that someone is following you. When you stop, the footsteps behind you also stop. When you quicken your pace, so does your pursuer. You start to run; you rush to a friend’s house nearby. When your friend opens the door and welcomes you into his home, you heave a sigh of relief.
Perhaps you have not experienced that exact situation, but other anxieties in life may well cause you to be apprehensive. 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 concerned about getting older and facing health issues that lie ahead of you? Or is there something else that distresses you?
Whatever the problem, would you not appreciate having someone with whom you could share your anxieties and who could provide help when you needed it? Do you have such a close friend? Yes, you do! Jehovah is such a friend to you, just as he was to the patriarch Abraham, as noted at Isaiah 41:8-13. In verses 10 and 13, Jehovah calls out to his servants: “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”
Do not these words reassure you? Put yourself in the word picture that Jehovah has painted for us. Here, you are not depicted as walking hand in hand with Jehovah, though that is a pleasant thought to consider. If you were walking hand in hand, his right hand would be grasping your left hand. Instead, Jehovah holds out his “right hand of righteousness” and grasps “your right hand,” as if to pull you out of a distressing circumstance in life. As he does so, he fortifies you with the assurance: “Do not be afraid. I will help you.”
Do you see Jehovah as a loving Father and Friend who will come to your aid when you are in distress? He is interested in you, concerned about your welfare, and determined to help you. When you face hardship, Jehovah wants you to feel secure because he has a strong attachment to you. He is truly “a help that is readily found in times of distress.”
FEELINGS OF GUILT OVER PAST MISTAKES
Some torment themselves over their past behavior and wonder whether God has forgiven them. If that is the case with you, think of the faithful man Job, who admitted to ‘the sins of his youth.’ (Job 13:26) The psalmist David experienced a similar feeling and begged Jehovah: “Do not remember the sins of my youth and my transgressions.” (Ps. 25:7) Being imperfect, all of us “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
The message in Isaiah chapter 41 was originally addressed to God’s ancient people. They had sinned to such an extent that Jehovah decided to execute judgment on them by having them taken into exile in Babylon. (Isa. 39:6, 7) Still, God was thinking ahead to the time when he would deliver those who would repent and return to him! (Isa. 41:8, 9; 49:8) Jehovah shows the same largeheartedness today toward those who sincerely want to merit his favor.
Consider the experience of Takuya, * who was trying to overcome the unclean habits of viewing pornography and practicing masturbation. Time and again, he suffered relapses. 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 invited him to call them whenever he experienced relapses. 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 make a shepherding visit on 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 recalls: “I was the one sinning, yet Jehovah, through the elders, extended help to me.” Takuya progressed to the point of becoming a regular pioneer and is now serving at a branch office. Just as in the case of this brother, God will pick you up from a fallen state.
BEING ANXIOUS ABOUT HOW TO EARN A LIVING
Being unemployed is a source of anxiety for many. Some lose their job and have a hard time finding another source of income. Imagine how you would feel if you were turned down by one employer after another. In such a situation, some people lose their self-respect. How might Jehovah help you? He may not immediately provide you with an ideal job, but he may help you by having you remember King David’s observations: “I was once young and now I am old, but I have not seen anyone righteous abandoned, nor his children looking for food.” (Ps. 37:25, ftn.) Yes, Jehovah views you as precious, and with his “right hand of righteousness,” he can help you to acquire what you need to keep on serving him.
Sara, who lives in Colombia, experienced Jehovah’s saving power. She had a demanding but well-paying job with a prestigious company. Yet, she wanted to do more for Jehovah, so she quit her job and started to pioneer. However, the part-time job she needed did not come easily. She set up a small ice-cream parlor but gradually ran out of funds and had to close the shop. “Three long years passed, but thanks to Jehovah, I was able to endure,” says Sara. She learned to distinguish between luxuries and necessities and not to be anxious about the next day. (Matt. 6:33, 34) Eventually, her former employer called and offered her the same position that she had before. She replied that she would accept only part-time work and only if she was granted time off for her spiritual activities. Although Sara does not make as much money as she once did, she is able to continue pioneering. Through it all, she says, “I felt the loving hand of Jehovah.”
GROWING CONCERNS ABOUT GETTING OLD
Aging is another major concern. Many people reach retirement age and wonder if they will have enough money to live out the rest of their life comfortably. They also worry about the health issues that may confront them as they grow older. Most likely it was David who pleaded with Jehovah: “Do not cast me off in my old age; do not abandon me when my strength fails.”
How, then, can servants of Jehovah feel secure in their old age? They need to continue cultivating faith in God, trusting that he will provide their necessities. Of course, if they have tasted some of life’s luxuries over the years, they may need to simplify their life and be satisfied with less materially. They may find that eating “a dish of vegetables” rather than “a fattened bull” can be enjoyable and perhaps even better for their health! (Prov. 15:17) If you are focused on pleasing Jehovah, he will provide for you even in your old age.
Take the case of José and Rose, who have served Jehovah full-time for over 65 years. Over the years, they have had to care for Rose’s father, who needed around-the-clock attention. Also, José had to endure cancer surgery and chemotherapy. Has Jehovah extended his right hand to this faithful couple? Yes, but how? Through Tony and Wendy, a couple in the congregation who made an apartment available to them. Tony and Wendy wanted to offer it rent-free to full-time pioneers. Years before, from a window at his high school, Tony had observed José and Rose regularly going out in field service. He loved them for the zeal that he had seen in them, and this had had a powerful impact on him. Seeing that the elderly couple had given their entire lives to Jehovah, Tony and Wendy were moved to take them in. For the past 15 years, they have helped José and Rose, who are now in their mid-80’s. These older ones consider the younger couple’s help to be a gift from Jehovah.
God is offering his “right hand of righteousness” to you too. Will you respond by holding out your hand to the One who promises you: “Do not be afraid. I will help you”?
^ par. 11 Some names have been changed.