“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.”—ISA. 41:10.
SONG 23 Jehovah, Our Strength
1-2. (a) How did the message recorded at Isaiah 41:10 affect a sister named Yoshiko? (b) Jehovah had that message preserved for whose benefit?
A FAITHFUL Christian sister named Yoshiko received bad news. Her doctor said that she had only a few months to live. How did she react? Yoshiko recalled a favorite Bible verse, Isaiah 41:10. (Read.) She then calmly told her doctor that she was not afraid, because Jehovah was grasping her hand. * The comforting message found in that verse helped our dear sister to trust in Jehovah completely. That same verse can help us remain calm when dealing with severe trials. To understand how it can do so, first let us examine why God gave that message to Isaiah.
2 Initially, Jehovah had Isaiah record those words to comfort the Jews who would later be taken to Babylon as exiles. However, Jehovah had that message preserved for the benefit of not only the Jewish exiles but also all his people since that time. (Isa. 40:8; Rom. 15:4) Today, we live in “critical times hard to deal with,” and more than ever, we need the encouragement found in the book of Isaiah.—2 Tim. 3:1.
3. (a) What promises are found at Isaiah 41:10, the yeartext selected for 2019? (b) Why do we need the assurances that these promises give us?
3 In this article, we will focus on three of Jehovah’s faith-building promises recorded at Isaiah 41:10: (1) Jehovah will be with us, (2) he is our God, and (3) he will help us. We need these assurances * because, like Yoshiko, we face trials in life. We must also deal with pressures from world conditions. Some of us are even enduring persecution from powerful governments. Let us consider the three assurances one at a time.
“I AM WITH YOU”
4. (a) What is the first assurance we will consider? (See also footnote.) (b) In what ways does Jehovah express his feelings for us? (c) How do God’s expressions affect you?
4 Jehovah first assures us with the words: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” * Jehovah shows that he is with us by giving us his full attention and his warm affection. Note how he expresses his tender and deep feelings for us. “You became precious in my eyes,” says Jehovah. “You were honored, and I have loved you.” (Isa. 43:4) No force in the universe can make Jehovah abandon his love for those who serve him; his loyalty to us is unshakable. (Isa. 54:10) His love and friendship fill us with courage. He will protect us today, just as he protected Abram (Abraham) his friend. Jehovah said to him: “Do not fear, Abram. I am a shield for you.”—Gen. 15:1.
5-6. (a) How do we know that Jehovah is interested in helping us with our personal trials? (b) What lesson can we learn from Yoshiko’s example?
5 We know that Jehovah is interested in helping us with our personal trials because he promises his people: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not flood over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame singe you.” (Isa. 43:2) What do these words mean?
6 Jehovah does not promise to remove the challenges that make life difficult, but he will not allow “the rivers” of problems to drown us or “the flame” of trials to do us any permanent damage. He guarantees that he will be with us, helping us to “pass through” those challenges. What will Jehovah do? He will help quiet our fears so that we can maintain our integrity to him, even if we face death. (Isa. 41:13) Yoshiko, mentioned earlier, found that to be true. Her daughter says: “We were impressed with how calm Mom was. We truly saw that Jehovah gave her inner peace. Until the day she died, Mom spoke to nurses and patients about Jehovah and his promises.” What do we learn from Yoshiko’s example? When we trust in God’s promise “I will be with you,” we too will be courageous and strong as we endure trials.
“I AM YOUR GOD”
7-8. (a) What is the second assurance we will consider, and what does it mean? (b) Why did Jehovah say to the Jewish exiles: “Do not be anxious”? (c) What words found at Isaiah 46:3, 4 must have calmed the hearts of God’s people?
7 Note the second assurance recorded by Isaiah: “Do not be anxious, for I am your God.” What does this statement about anxiety mean? In this verse the original-language word for “be anxious” has the idea of having “to look over your shoulder in anticipation of an unknown threat” or “to look about as one does in a state of alarm.”
8 Why did Jehovah tell the Jews who would be exiles in Babylon not to “be anxious”? Because he knew that the inhabitants of that land would become afraid. What would cause that fear? Toward the end of the 70-year period of the Jewish exile, Babylon would be attacked by the mighty armies of Medo-Persia. Jehovah would use this army to free his people from captivity to Babylon. (Isa. 41:2-4) When the Babylonians and people of other nations living at the time knew that their enemy was approaching, they tried to maintain their courage by saying to one another: “Be strong.” They also made more idol gods, hoping that these would protect them. (Isa. 41:5-7) Meanwhile, Jehovah calmed the hearts of the Jewish exiles by saying: “You, O Israel, [unlike your neighbors] are my servant . . . Do not be anxious, for I am your God.” (Isa. 41:8-10) Note that Jehovah said: “I am your God.” With those words, Jehovah reassured his loyal worshippers that he had not forgotten them—he was still their God, and they were still his people. He told them: “I will carry you . . . and rescue you.” Those reassuring words no doubt strengthened the Jewish exiles.—Read Isaiah 46:3, 4.
9-10. Why is there no need for us to become afraid? Illustrate.
9 Now more than ever, people around us are anxious about worsening world conditions. Of course, we too are affected by those same problems. But there is no need for us to become afraid. Jehovah tells us: “I am your God.” Why is that statement a powerful reason for remaining calm?
10 Consider this illustration: Two passengers, Jim and Ben, are on an airplane that is being rocked by strong winds. As the plane lurches up and down, a voice comes over the loudspeaker: “Keep your seat belts fastened. We will be flying through turbulence for some time.” Jim becomes very worried. But then the pilot adds: “Do not be anxious. This is your pilot speaking.” At that point, Jim shakes his head, saying, “What kind of assurance is that?” He notices, though, that Ben does not look anxious at all. Jim asks him: “Why are you so calm?” Ben smiles and says: “Because I know this pilot very well. He is my father!” Then Ben says: “Let me tell you about my father. I’m sure that when you know him and his abilities, you too will be calm.”
11. What lessons can we learn from the illustration about the two passengers?
11 What lessons can we learn from this illustration? Like Ben, we are calm because we know our heavenly Father, Jehovah, very well. We know that he will guide us safely through the stormlike problems we face during the last days of this system. (Isa. 35:4) We trust in Jehovah, so we can remain calm while the rest of the world is gripped by fear. (Isa. 30:15) We also act like Ben when we share with our neighbors reasons for having confidence in God. Then they too can be sure that no matter what challenges they face, Jehovah will support them.
“I WILL FORTIFY YOU [AND] HELP YOU”
12. (a) What is the third assurance we will consider? (b) The reference to Jehovah’s “arm” reminds us of what fact?
12 Consider the third assurance that Isaiah recorded: “I will fortify you, yes, I will help you.” Isaiah had already described how Jehovah would fortify, or strengthen, his people, saying: “Jehovah will come with power, and his arm will rule for him.” (Isa. 40:10) The Bible often uses the word “arm” symbolically to signify power. So the statement that Jehovah’s “arm will rule” reminds us that Jehovah is a powerful King. He used his unbeatable strength to support and defend his servants in the past, and he continues to strengthen and protect those who trust in him today.—Deut. 1:30, 31; Isa. 43:10, ftn.
13. (a) When especially does Jehovah keep his promise to fortify us? (b) What guarantee fills us with strength and confidence?
13 Especially when enemies persecute us, Jehovah keeps his promise: “I will fortify you.” In some parts of the world today, our enemies are trying hard to stop our preaching work or ban our organization. Even so, we are not overly anxious about such attacks. Jehovah has given us a guarantee that fills us with strength and confidence. He promises us: “No weapon formed against you will have any success.” (Isa. 54:17) That statement reminds us of three important facts.
14. Why are we not surprised that enemies of God attack us?
14 First, as Christ’s followers, we expect to be hated. (Matt. 10:22) Jesus foretold that his disciples would be severely persecuted during the last days. (Matt. 24:9; John 15:20) Second, Isaiah’s prophecy forewarns us that our enemies will do more than hate us; they will use various weapons against us. Those weapons have included subtle deception, blatant lies, and brutal persecution. (Matt. 5:11) Jehovah will not stop our enemies from using these weapons to wage war against us. (Eph. 6:12; Rev. 12:17) But we do not need to be afraid. Why not?
15-16. (a) What is the third fact we need to remember, and how does Isaiah 25:4, 5 support this? (b) How does Isaiah 41:11, 12 describe the outcome for those who fight against us?
15 Consider the third fact we need to remember. Jehovah said that “no weapon” used against us would “have any success.” Just as a wall protects us from the force of a destructive rainstorm, so Jehovah protects us against “the blast of the tyrants.” (Read Isaiah 25:4, 5.) Our enemies will never succeed in causing us any lasting harm.—Isa. 65:17.
16 Jehovah further fortifies our trust in him by describing in detail the outcome waiting for those who are “getting enraged against” us. (Read Isaiah 41:11, 12.) No matter how hard our enemies fight against us or how intense the war becomes, the outcome is the same: All enemies of God’s people “will be brought to nothing and perish.”
HOW WE DEEPEN OUR TRUST IN JEHOVAH
17-18. (a) How can reading the Bible deepen our trust in God? Give an example. (b) How can meditating on the yeartext selected for 2019 help us?
17 We deepen our trust in Jehovah by getting to know him better. And the only way we can really know God well is by reading the Bible carefully and then meditating on what we read. The Bible contains a reliable record of how Jehovah protected his people in the past. That record gives us confidence that he will care for us now.
18 Consider an example of the beautiful word picture Isaiah uses to illustrate how Jehovah protects us. He refers to Jehovah as a shepherd and to God’s servants as lambs. Isaiah says of Jehovah: “With his arm he will gather together the lambs, and in his bosom he will carry them.” (Isa. 40:11) When we sense Jehovah’s strong arms wrapped around us, we feel protected and calm. To help us remain calm despite the problems we face, the faithful and discreet slave has selected Isaiah 41:10 as the yeartext for 2019, “Do not be anxious, for I am your God.” Meditate on those reassuring words. They will strengthen you as you face the challenges that lie ahead.
SONG 49 He Will Make You Strong
^ par. 5 The yeartext selected for 2019 gives us three reasons why we can remain calm even when bad things happen in the world or in our personal life. This article will examine those reasons and help us to feel less anxious and more inclined to trust in Jehovah. Meditate on the yeartext. Memorize it if you can. It will strengthen you for the challenges that lie ahead.
^ par. 1 See The Watchtower, July 2016, p. 18.
^ par. 3 EXPRESSION EXPLAINED: An assurance is a truthful statement or a promise that something is definitely going to happen. The assurances that Jehovah gives us can make us feel less worried about the problems that may arise in our lives.
^ par. 4 The expression “Do not be afraid” is mentioned three times, at Isaiah 41:10, 13, and 14. The same verses frequently mention the word “I” (referring to Jehovah). Why did Jehovah inspire Isaiah to use “I” so frequently? To highlight an important fact—we can calm our fears only by trusting in Jehovah.
^ par. 52 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Members of a family face trials at work, with their health, in the ministry, and at school.
^ par. 54 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A meeting of Witnesses held in a private home is raided by the police, but the brothers and sisters do not panic.
^ par. 56 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Regular Family Worship sessions strengthen us to endure.