“If a man should live many years, let him enjoy them all.”
1. What blessings from Jehovah can help us to be happy?
JEHOVAH wants us to be happy, and he gives us so many blessings that should bring us happiness. For one thing, he has given us life. We can use our life to praise him, because God has drawn us to true worship. (Psalm 144:15; John 6:44) Jehovah assures us of his love, and he helps us so that we do not give up in our service to him. (Jeremiah 31:3; 2 Corinthians 4:16) We enjoy the spiritual paradise, which includes true peace and unity, a loving brotherhood, and regular reminders of Jehovah’s love for us. In addition to that, we have a precious hope for the future.
2. What do some faithful servants of God struggle with?
2 Even though we have these reasons for happiness, some faithful servants of God struggle with negative thoughts about themselves. They may feel that Jehovah does not value them or their service to him. Those who have constant negative feelings may think that the idea of enjoying “many years” is just a dream. Life may feel like one dark day after another.
3. What may cause negative feelings?
3 Such negative feelings may be caused by disappointments, illness, or getting older. (Psalm 71:9; Proverbs 13:12; Ecclesiastes 7:7) Also, we must realize that our heart is “treacherous” and that it can make us feel guilty even when God may be pleased with us. (Jeremiah 17:9; 1 John 3:20) The Devil spreads lies about God’s servants. Satan moved Eliphaz to say that we are worthless to God. That was a lie in Job’s day, and it still is today.
4. What will we discuss in this article?
4 In the Scriptures, Jehovah assures us that he will be with those who struggle with negative thoughts. (Psalm 23:4) One way he is with us is by means of his Word. The Bible is “powerful by God for overturning strongly entrenched things.” This means that it can change wrong or negative ideas about ourselves. (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5) So let us discuss how we can use the Bible to help us develop and maintain a positive viewpoint. You may personally benefit from this and also find ways to encourage others.
USE THE BIBLE TO DEVELOP A POSITIVE VIEWPOINT
5. What test can help us to have a positive viewpoint?
5 The apostle described some things that may help us to develop a positive viewpoint. He counseled the congregation in Corinth: “Keep testing whether you are in the faith.” (2 Corinthians 13:5) “The faith” is the entire collection of Christian beliefs revealed in the Bible. If we say and do what the Bible teaches, then we pass this test and show that we are “in the faith.” Of course, we cannot pick and choose which beliefs we will follow. We must obey all the Christian teachings in the Bible.
Jehovah’s opinion of us is more important than our own
6. Why should we test whether we are “in the faith”? (See opening picture.)
6 You might not want to take that test, especially if you think that you might fail. Yet, Jehovah’s opinion of us is more important than our own, because he knows much more than we do. (Isaiah 55:8, 9) He examines his worshippers, not to condemn them, but to find their good qualities and to help them. When you use God’s Word to test yourself to see “whether you are in the faith,” you will begin to understand how God feels about you. This can help you to avoid thinking that you are worthless and help you to remember God’s view: You are precious in his eyes. Remembering this can be like opening the curtains to let the sunshine into a dark room.
7. How can the example of faithful people mentioned in the Bible help us?
7 A good way to test ourselves is to meditate on the example of faithful people mentioned in the Bible. Compare their circumstances or feelings with yours, and see what you might have done in their situation. Let us look at three examples that illustrate how you can use the Bible to confirm that you are “in the faith.” This will also help you to develop a positive view of yourself.
THE POOR WIDOW
8, 9. (a) What were the circumstances of the poor widow? (b) What negative feelings might the widow have had?
8 At the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus watched a poor widow. Her example can help us to maintain a positive viewpoint even if we cannot do everything that we would like to do. (Read Luke 21:1-4.) Think about her circumstances. First of all, she had to endure the pain of losing her husband. At the same time, the religious leaders were greedy and stole from widows like her, instead of helping them. (Luke 20:47) She was so poor that the best contribution she could give to the temple was the same as what a worker could earn in just a few minutes.
9 Try to imagine how the widow might have felt as she entered the temple courtyard holding only two small coins. Would she be thinking about how small her contribution was compared with what she would have given when her husband was alive? When she saw the large donations of others, would she be embarrassed and feel that her contribution was worthless? Even if she had such feelings, she still gave what she had in order to support true worship.
10. How did Jesus show that the widow was valuable to God?
10 Jesus said that the widow and her contribution were valuable to Jehovah. He said that she gave more than all the rich people gave. Her contribution would be mixed in with what others gave, but Jesus especially appreciated her gift to Jehovah. Those who counted the temple contributions would never know how important those two small coins were to Jehovah or how precious the widow was to him. Still, God’s opinion was the one that really mattered, not what other people thought or even how the widow felt about herself. Can you use this account to test “whether you are in the faith”?
11. What can you learn from the account of the widow?
11 Your circumstances may affect what you can give to Jehovah. Because of age or health problems, some are not able to spend as much time preaching as they would like. Should they feel that their field service time is not worth reporting? Even if you are younger or have good health, you might feel that your efforts are only a small part of the many hours that God’s people spend in worshipping him. The story of the poor widow teaches us that Jehovah notices and treasures every little thing we do for him, especially when our circumstances are difficult. Think about your worship to Jehovah during the past year. Did one of the hours you spent serving Jehovah require you to make a great sacrifice? If so, you can be sure that he values what you did for him during that hour. You prove that you are “in the faith” when you imitate the poor widow and do all you can for Jehovah.
You prove that you are “in the faith” when you do all you can for Jehovah
“TAKE MY LIFE AWAY”
12-14. (a) What negative feelings did Elijah have? (b) Why might Elijah have felt as he did?
12 The prophet Elijah was loyal to Jehovah and had strong faith. Yet, at one point he felt so disappointed that he asked Jehovah to put him to death, saying: “It is enough! Now, O Jehovah, take my life away.” (1 Kings 19:4) Those who have never felt so desperate might think that Elijah’s prayer was just “wild talk.” (Job 6:3) But his feelings were real. Note that rather than becoming angry with Elijah, Jehovah helped him.
13 Why did Elijah have such feelings? Shortly before this, Elijah performed a miracle that proved that Jehovah is the true God. After this miracle, 450 prophets of Baal were executed. (1 Kings 18:37-40) Elijah likely hoped that God’s people would now return to pure worship, but that did not happen. Wicked Queen Jezebel sent a message to Elijah that she was going to kill him. Fearing for his life, Elijah ran south from Israel across the land of Judah into the wilderness.
14 While Elijah was alone in the wilderness, he began to think that his work as a prophet was for nothing. He told Jehovah: “I am no better than my forefathers.” He felt as useless as the dust and bones of his dead ancestors. In his opinion, he was a failure and had no value to Jehovah or to anyone else.
15. How did God show Elijah that He still valued him?
15 But the Almighty had a different opinion of Elijah. Elijah remained valuable to Jehovah, and he made sure that Elijah knew that. God sent an angel to strengthen him. Jehovah also gave Elijah food and drink that would help him endure his 40-day trip south to Mount Horeb. When Elijah felt that no other Israelites had remained faithful to Jehovah, God kindly corrected his wrong idea. Notice, too, that Jehovah gave Elijah new assignments, which he accepted. Elijah was helped by Jehovah, and as a result, he had new energy and returned to his work as a prophet.
16. How has Jehovah strengthened you?
16 You can use Elijah’s experience to confirm that you are “in the faith” and to develop a positive attitude. First, think of the ways Jehovah has supported you. Has an elder or another mature Christian given you help at the right time? (Galatians 6:2) Have the Bible, our Christian publications, and the meetings helped you to feel that Jehovah cares about you? The next time you are helped in one of these ways, think about where this help really comes from, and remember to thank Jehovah in prayer.
Our value to Jehovah does not depend on how much we do for him
17. What does Jehovah value in his servants?
17 Second, remember that a negative viewpoint can mislead us. God’s opinion of us is what really matters. (Read Romans 14:4.) Jehovah values our devotion and our faithfulness to him. Our value to Jehovah does not depend on how much we do for him. It could be that, like Elijah, you have done more for Jehovah than you realize. You have probably helped others in the congregation without knowing it. And people in the territory may have heard the truth because of your hard work.
18. What does your assignment from Jehovah prove?
18 Finally, think of each assignment from Jehovah as proof that he is pleased with you. (Jeremiah 20:11) Like Elijah, you might be discouraged if your service seems unsuccessful or if goals in your service to Jehovah seem impossible to reach. Yet, you still have the greatest honor that any of us can have. This is the honor to preach the good news and to be called one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. So stay faithful to Jehovah. Then, as Jesus said, you will be able to “enter into the joy of your master.”
THE “PRAYER OF THE OPPRESSED ONE”
19. How did the writer of Psalm 102 feel?
19 The writer of Psalm 102 was desperate. He was “oppressed,” that is, he was suffering great physical or emotional pain. He was also “in despair,” which meant that he did not have the strength to endure his problems. (Psalm 102, superscription) All he could think about was his pain, his loneliness, and his own feelings. (Psalm 102:3, 4, 6, 11) He believed that Jehovah wanted to throw him away.
20. How can prayer help someone who is fighting negative thoughts?
20 Yet, the psalmist could still use his life to praise Jehovah. (Read Psalm 102:19-21.) Psalm 102 shows us that even those who are “in the faith” can be in pain and may not be able to think about anything else. “Like a solitary bird on a roof,” the psalmist felt lonely, as if he were surrounded only by problems. (Psalm 102:7) If you ever feel that way, pour out your heart to Jehovah, as the psalmist did. Your prayers can help you to fight negative thoughts. Jehovah promises that “he will pay attention to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their prayer.” (Psalm 102:17) Trust his promise.
21. If we become discouraged, how can we get a more positive viewpoint?
21 Psalm 102 also shows how you can get a more positive viewpoint. The psalmist chose to think about his friendship with Jehovah. (Psalm 102:12, 27) He was comforted to know that Jehovah would always be there to help His people to endure trials. So if you are discouraged and this keeps you from doing as much as you want to in God’s service, pray about it. Ask God to hear your prayer not only so that you will find relief from your problem but also “so that the name of Jehovah will be declared.”
22. How can each of us please Jehovah?
22 Yes, we can use the Bible to prove to ourselves that we are “in the faith” and are valuable to Jehovah. It is true that in Satan’s world we may not be able to get rid of all negative feelings or discouragement. However, all of us can please Jehovah and have everlasting life if we faithfully endure in his service.