“Be of good courage and say: ‘Jehovah is my helper.’”
1, 2. Why can it be difficult for those who work far away from home to return? (See opening picture.)
EDUARDO had a good job and made a lot of money when he was working in a country far from his family. * (See footnote.) But when he learned the truth, he realized that his family needed more than money. They needed him at home to care for them. So he went back home.
2 Eduardo knew that Jehovah wanted him to go back to his family. But it was not going to be easy. He had to restore his relationship with his wife and children, and he had to earn enough money to care for them. How would he do that? Would the congregation help them?
REPAIRING YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JEHOVAH AND WITH YOUR FAMILY
3. How are children affected when parents live far away?
3 Eduardo admits: “I had neglected my children when they most needed my guidance and affection. I had not been there to read them Bible stories, to pray with them, to cuddle them, and to play with them.” (Deuteronomy 6:7) His oldest daughter, Anna, remembers: “I felt emotionally insecure not having our father at home with us. When he returned, we knew him only by his face and voice. It didn’t feel natural when he hugged me.”
The longer a father lives away from home, the more difficult it is for him to be a family head
4. Why is it difficult for a father to be a good family head when he lives away from his family?
4 The longer a father lives away from home, the more difficult it is for him to be a family head. Eduardo’s wife, Ruby, explains: “I had to play two roles
5. What did Eduardo do to repair his relationship with his family when he returned home? What was the result?
5 Eduardo did all he could to repair his relationship with his family and to help them build their relationship with Jehovah. He wanted to teach his children the truth by word and example, not just to say that he loves Jehovah but to show it. (1 John 3:18) Did Jehovah bless Eduardo’s efforts? “Seeing all his efforts to be a good father and to draw close to us again made a big difference,” answers Anna. “When we saw him reaching out in the congregation, we felt proud. The world was trying to pull us away from Jehovah. But we saw our parents focused on the truth, so we tried to do the same. Papa promised never to leave us again, and he didn’t. If he had, I probably wouldn’t be in Jehovah’s organization today.”
6. What lesson did many parents learn during a war in the Balkans?
6 Children want their parents to be with them. For example, when there was a war in the Balkans, many Witness parents were not able to go to work. As a result, they spent most of their time with their children at home. They played with them, talked with them, and studied with them. The children loved it, and they were happy even though life was very difficult during the war. The lesson? More than money or gifts, children really want their parents. As the Bible says, children will benefit when their parents spend time with them and train them.
7, 8. (a) What may shock parents when they return home? (b) How can parents repair their relationship with their children?
7 Some parents may be shocked when they return to their family. Their children may act as if they do not even care that they are back or as if they do not trust them anymore. The parent may say, “How can you be so ungrateful after all I have done for you?” But the truth is, the child is hurt because his parent left him. How can the parent fix the problem?
8 Ask Jehovah to help you to understand how your family really feels, and show them that you care. You also need to speak to your family and admit that you are part of the problem. A genuine apology may help. When your family sees that you keep trying to make things better, they will know that you are sincere. If you are patient and do not give up, your family may begin to love and respect you again.
PROVIDING FOR YOUR FAMILY
9. Why should we be content with our standard of living?
9 The apostle Paul wrote that when older Christians cannot care for their own needs, their children and grandchildren should help them. According to Paul, all we really need to be content with our standard of living are food, clothing, and shelter. (Read 1 Timothy 5:4, 8; 6:6-10.) To provide for his family, a Christian does not need to become rich in this world that is “passing away.” (1 John 2:15-17) We must not think that money can solve all our problems or let the “anxieties of life” cause our family to lose their “firm hold on the real life” in God’s new world!
Money cannot help and protect us as wisdom from Jehovah can
10. Why is it wise to avoid debt?
10 Jehovah knows that we need some money. But money cannot help and protect us as wisdom from Jehovah can. (Ecclesiastes 7:12; Luke 12:15) Many times, people do not realize how much it will cost to move to another country. And there is no guarantee that they will make money once they get there. In fact, such a move can be dangerous. Many who leave their family return home with even more debt. Instead of being able to serve God more freely, they have to serve the people to whom they owe money. (Read Proverbs 22:7.) It is always wise to avoid debt in the first place.
“The hand of Jehovah is not short”
11. How can using a budget help families?
11 Eduardo knew that to care successfully for his family after moving home, he would have to be careful how they spent money. He and his wife made a budget based on what they really needed. * (See footnote.) To follow their budget, they could not buy as much as they did when they had more money. But all in the family cooperated, and they did not spend money on unnecessary things. “For example,” Eduardo says, “I took my children out of private schools and found good public schools for them.” He and his family prayed for him to find work that would not get in the way of their routine of worship. How did Jehovah answer their prayers?
12, 13. What did Eduardo do to support his family, and how did Jehovah bless his decision to keep life simple?
12 For the first two years, Eduardo barely made enough money for his family to live, they had to use their savings, and he was very tired. But Eduardo says, “We could attend all the meetings and go in service together.” He decided that he would not even think about taking a job that would keep him away from his family. “Instead,” he says, “I learned to do various jobs so that when one type of work was not available, I could do another.”
13 Because it took a long time for Eduardo to pay off his debts, he had to pay a lot of interest on the money he had borrowed. However, Eduardo was willing to do this so that he could serve Jehovah with his family. “I now make less than 10 percent of what I made overseas,” Eduardo says, “but we don’t go hungry. ‘The hand of Jehovah is not short.’ In fact, we decided to pioneer.” Soon after that, the economy improved, and it became much easier for him to take care of his family.
PRESSURE FROM RELATIVES
14, 15. What can families do if their relatives want them to choose money over worship of Jehovah? What may happen when we set a good example?
14 Some people feel that they must give money and gifts to relatives and friends. “It is part of our culture, and we enjoy giving,” says Eduardo. But he adds, “There is a limit.” He kindly explains to his relatives that he will give them as much as he can, but he will not neglect his immediate family’s needs or their worship to Jehovah.
15 Some relatives may be disappointed in a person who chooses to stay with his family or who chooses to return home. They may even call him unloving or selfish. Why? Because these relatives expect money from him. (Proverbs 19:6, 7) Eduardo’s daughter Anna says that if their family chooses worship of Jehovah over money, their relatives may understand how important Jehovah is. If they do not make that choice, their relatives may never be able to understand.
EXERCISING FAITH IN GOD
16. (a) What wrong thinking could a person have? (James 1:22) (b) What decisions does Jehovah bless?
16 One sister who left her family to work in another country told the elders: “We had to make great sacrifices for me to come here. My husband even had to stop serving as an elder. So I really hope that Jehovah will bless this move.” If we have faith and make decisions according to Jehovah’s will, we can be sure that he will bless us. He will not bless decisions that go against his will. And he will not be pleased if we give up a privilege of service for the wrong reasons.
17. Why should we look for Jehovah’s direction before making decisions, and how can we do this?
17 Seek Jehovah’s direction before you make a decision so that you will not have regrets later. Pray for holy spirit, wisdom, and guidance. (2 Timothy 1:7) Ask yourself: ‘How much am I willing to sacrifice in order to serve Jehovah? Will I listen to his direction to stay with my family, even if that means we will have a less comfortable life?’ (Luke 14:33) Ask the elders for help, and follow their Bible-based advice. If you do this, you show that you trust in Jehovah’s promise to help you. The elders will not tell you what to do, but they will help you to make wise choices that will lead to a happy life.
18. Who is responsible for supporting a family? What can we do to help?
18 Jehovah expects that family heads support their families all the time. We should pray for and commend those who care for that responsibility without leaving their families, even when they are tempted to go away or others tell them to do so. In addition to our prayers, we have an opportunity to prove our love for these faithful brothers when disasters strike or some medical emergency happens. (Galatians 6:2, 5; 1 Peter 3:8) Could you help them to find work nearby or give them something else that they urgently need, such as money or food? If so, they may not need to leave their family to find work in another area.
REMEMBER THAT JEHOVAH IS YOUR HELPER!
19, 20. Why can Christians be sure that Jehovah will help them?
19 Jehovah assures us: “Let your way of life be free of the love of money, while you are content with the present things. For [God] has said: ‘I will never leave you, and I will never abandon you.’ So that we may be of good courage and say: ‘Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5, 6) How do we do this in real life?
When we obey Jehovah’s commandments, we show that we love him and trust in him
20 An elder in a poor country says that people often comment about how happy Jehovah’s Witnesses are. He says that they also notice that even poor Witnesses are always nicely dressed and have the things they need. This is exactly what Jesus promised. (Matthew 6:28-30) Jehovah loves us and does what is best for us. He is very interested in all of his servants and is always ready to “show his strength” in order to help us. (2 Chronicles 16:9) That is why he has given us commandments about family life and how to care for our needs. When we obey these commandments, we show Jehovah that we love him and trust in him. “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome.”
21, 22. Why have you decided to trust in Jehovah?
21 Eduardo says that he knows that the time he was apart from his wife and children can never be regained. But he does not dwell on his regrets. Many of those he worked with before are rich but unhappy. Their families have serious problems. However, his family is very happy! Even though they are poor, Eduardo’s family and other families in his country trust that Jehovah will help them. He says, “We all are experiencing the truth of Jesus’ promise.”
Be courageous! Choose to obey Jehovah
22 Be courageous! Choose to obey Jehovah and trust in him. You can be a good family head if you love Jehovah, your mate, and your children. You will be able to experience Jehovah as your Helper.