*Had a good shepherding call tonight...Br Tomiyasu recommended that the elders visit the congregations in our circuit to share some 'timely' info with everyone for encouragement and support...since so many people are facing economic and health concerns right now. I'm gonna post the article which the information they discussed tonight was based upon, because its really good. (It's from the 9/1/03 Watchtower, pgs 13-19)
Trust in Jehovah Completely in Times of Distress
“God is for us a refuge and strength, a help that is readily to be found during distresses.”—Psalm 46:1.
IT IS one thing to claim that we trust in God. It is quite another to show it by our actions. For example, the phrase “In God We Trust” has long appeared on U.S. paper currency and coins. In 1956, the U.S. Congress passed a law declaring that expression the national motto of the United States. Ironically, many people—not just in that land but throughout the world—put greater trust in money and material wealth than they do in God.—Luke 12:16-21.
¶2 As true Christians, we must do more than simply say that we trust in Jehovah. Just as “faith without works is dead,” so too any claim that we trust in God is meaningless unless we back it up by our actions. (James 2:26) In the preceding article, we learned that our trust in Jehovah is manifested when we turn to him in prayer, when we seek direction from his Word, and when we look to his organization for guidance. Let us now consider how we can take those three steps in times of distress.
When a Job Is Lost or Income Is Meager
¶3 In these “critical times,” we as Christians face the same economic pressures that other people do. (2 Timothy 3:1) Hence, we may suddenly find ourselves laid off our job. Or we may have little choice but to work long hours for meager wages. Under such circumstances, we might find it difficult to ‘provide for those who are our own.’ (1 Timothy 5:8) Is the Most High God willing to help us at such times? Most definitely! Of course, Jehovah does not shield us from all the hardships of life in this system of things. If we trust in him, however, the words of Psalm 46:1 will prove true in our case: “God is for us a refuge and strength, a help that is readily to be found during distresses.” How, though, can we show that we trust in Jehovah completely in times of financial distress?
¶4 One way to demonstrate our trust in Jehovah is by turning to him in prayer. But what can we pray for? Well, confronted with financial problems, we may need practical wisdom now more than ever. By all means, then, pray for it! Jehovah’s Word assures us: “If any one of you is lacking in wisdom, let him keep on asking God, for he gives generously to all and without reproaching; and it will be given him.” (James 1:5) Yes, ask Jehovah for wisdom—the ability to put knowledge, understanding, and discernment to good use—so as to make sound decisions and right choices. Our loving heavenly Father assures us that he will listen to such prayers. He is ever willing to straighten the paths of those who trust in him with all their heart.—Psalm 65:2; Proverbs 3:5, 6.
¶5 Looking to God’s Word for guidance is another way of showing that we trust in Jehovah. His wise reminders found in the Bible have proved “very trustworthy.” (Psalm 93:5) Although completed over 1,900 years ago, that inspired book contains dependable advice and keen insight that can help us to cope better with economic pressures. Consider some examples of the Bible’s wisdom.
¶6 Wise King Solomon observed long ago: “Sweet is the sleep of the one serving, regardless of whether it is little or much that he eats; but the plenty belonging to the rich one is not permitting him to sleep.” (Ecclesiastes 5:12) It takes time and money to fix, clean, maintain, and protect our material possessions. So faced with the loss of a job, we might take the opportunity to reexamine our life-style, trying to distinguish needs from wants. To reduce anxiety, it may be wise to make some changes. For example, is it possible to simplify our life, perhaps moving to a smaller dwelling or eliminating unnecessary material possessions?—Matthew 6:22.
¶7 In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus counseled: “Stop being anxious about your souls as to what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your bodies as to what you will wear.” (Matthew 6:25) Jesus knew that imperfect humans are naturally concerned about obtaining basic necessities. How, though, can we “stop being anxious” about such things? “Keep on . . . seeking first the kingdom,” said Jesus. No matter what problems we encounter, we must continue giving Jehovah’s worship priority in life. If we do so, then all our daily necessities “will be added” to us by our heavenly Father. In one way or another, he will make it possible for us to keep going.—Matthew 6:33.
¶8 Jesus offered this further piece of advice: “Never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties.” (Matthew 6:34) It is not wise to be unduly anxious about what tomorrow may bring. One scholar noted: “The future of reality is seldom as bad as the future of our fears.” Humbly heeding the Bible’s advice to keep our priorities in clear focus and to live one day at a time can help us to avoid undue anxiety.—1 Peter 5:6, 7.
¶9 When encountering financial distress, we can also show our trust in Jehovah by looking to the publications of “the faithful and discreet slave” for help. (Matthew 24:45) From time to time, the Awake! magazine has featured articles containing helpful tips and suggestions for dealing with economic challenges. The article “Out of a Job—What Are the Solutions?” in the August 8, 1991, issue outlined eight practical guidelines that have helped many to keep financially and emotionally stable when faced with a period of unemployment. Of course, such guidelines must be balanced with a proper view of the true importance of money. This was discussed in the article “Something More Vital Than Money,” which appeared in the same issue.—Ecclesiastes 7:12.
When Distressed by Health Problems
¶10 Is it realistic to trust in Jehovah in the face of serious illness? Absolutely! Jehovah feels for sick ones among his people. More than that, he is willing to help. Consider, for example, King David. He himself may have been seriously ill when he wrote of God’s dealings with an upright sick one. He said: “Jehovah himself will sustain him upon a divan of illness; all his bed you will certainly change during his sickness.” (Psalm 41:1, 3, 7, 8) David’s trust in God remained strong, and finally the king recovered from his illness. How, though, can we display trust in God when we are distressed by health problems?
¶11 When stricken by illness, one way to show our trust in Jehovah is by beseeching him in prayer for help to endure. We may ask him to help us use “practical wisdom” so that we may seek the level of health that our circumstances realistically allow. (Proverbs 3:21) We may also ask him to help us exercise patience and endurance so as to put up with the illness. Above all, we would want to ask that Jehovah sustain us, giving us the strength to keep faithful to him and not lose our balance, no matter what may happen. (Philippians 4:13) Maintaining our integrity to God is even more important than preserving our present life. If we keep our integrity, the Great Rewarder will give us an eternity of perfect life and health.—Hebrews 11:6.
¶12 Our trust in Jehovah also moves us to look to his Word, the Bible, for practical guidance. The principles found in the Scriptures can help us to make wise decisions when it comes to medical treatment. For instance, knowing that the Bible condemns the “practice of spiritism,” we would avoid any diagnostic or therapeutic procedure that involves spiritism. (Galatians 5:19-21; Deuteronomy 18:10-12) Here is another example of the Bible’s trustworthy wisdom: “Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15) Hence, when contemplating medical treatment, we are wise to seek reliable information rather than putting “faith in every word.” Such “soundness of mind” can help us to weigh our options carefully and to make an informed decision.—Titus 2:12.
¶13 We may also manifest our trust in Jehovah by searching the publications of the faithful slave. The Watchtower and Awake! magazines have occasionally published informative articles on a wide variety of specific health problems and diseases. At times, these journals have featured articles by individuals who have successfully coped with various disorders, ailments, and disabilities. In addition, certain articles have offered Scriptural suggestions as well as practical advice on how to live with chronic health problems.
¶14 For example, the January 22, 2001, issue of Awake! featured the cover series “Comfort for the Sick.” The articles presented helpful Bible principles as well as firsthand information gleaned from interviews with knowledgeable individuals who have lived with disabling illness for many years. The article “Living Successfully With Your Ailment—How?” offered the following advice: Learn as much as you reasonably can about your illness. (Proverbs 24:5) Set practical goals, including goals to help others, but realize that you may not be able to reach the same goals that others can. (Acts 20:35; Galatians 6:4) Avoid social isolation. (Proverbs 18:1) Make visiting you a pleasant experience for others. (Proverbs 17:22) Above all, maintain a close bond with Jehovah and with the congregation. (Nahum 1:7; Romans 1:11, 12) Are we not grateful for the trustworthy guidance Jehovah provides through his organization?
When a Fleshly Weakness Persists
¶15 “In my flesh, there dwells nothing good,” wrote the apostle Paul. (Romans 7:18) Paul knew firsthand how difficult it can be to struggle against the desires and weaknesses of the imperfect flesh. However, Paul also had confidence that he could prevail. (1 Corinthians 9:26, 27) How? By trusting implicitly in Jehovah. That is why Paul could say: “Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death? Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24, 25) What about us? We too have a battle against fleshly weaknesses. As we struggle to deal with such weaknesses, it is easy to lose confidence, becoming convinced that we can never succeed. But Jehovah will help us if we, like Paul, truly rely on Him and not just on our own strength.
¶16 When a fleshly weakness persists, we can show that we trust in Jehovah by imploring him in prayer. We need to ask, even beg, Jehovah for the help of his holy spirit. (Luke 11:9-13) We can specifically ask for self-control, which is part of the fruitage of God’s spirit. (Galatians 5:22, 23) What should we do if we have a relapse? By all means, we should not give up. Let us never weary of praying humbly to our merciful God, asking his forgiveness and help. Jehovah will never reject, or turn away, a heart that is “broken and crushed” by the weight of a guilty conscience. (Psalm 51:17) If we supplicate him with a sincere, contrite heart, Jehovah will help us fight temptations.—Philippians 4:6, 7.
¶17 We can also show that we trust in Jehovah by searching his Word for help. Using a Bible concordance or the Watch Tower Publications Index, we can seek the answer to the question, ‘How does Jehovah feel about the particular weakness that I am fighting?’ Reflecting on how Jehovah feels about the matter can strengthen our desire to please him. Thus, we may come to feel as he feels, hating what he hates. (Psalm 97:10) Some have found it helpful to commit to memory Bible texts that apply to the specific weakness they are fighting. Are we struggling to control a quick temper? Then we might memorize such texts as Proverbs 14:17 and Ephesians 4:31. Are we finding it difficult to guard our tongue? We might learn by heart such texts as Proverbs 12:18 and Ephesians 4:29. Do we have a tendency toward unwholesome entertainment? We might try to remember such verses as Ephesians 5:3 and Colossians 3:5.
¶18 Seeking help from spirit-appointed elders in the congregation is a further way to demonstrate our reliance on Jehovah. (Acts 20:28) After all, these “gifts in men” are a provision from Jehovah through Christ to protect and care for his sheep. (Ephesians 4:7, 8, 11-14) Granted, it may not be easy to ask for help in dealing with a weakness. We might be embarrassed, fearing that the elders will think less of us. But no doubt these spiritually mature men will respect us for having the courage to ask for help. Furthermore, the elders endeavor to reflect Jehovah’s own qualities in dealing with the flock. Their comforting, practical counsel and instruction from God’s Word may be just what we need to strengthen our resolve enough to overcome our weakness.—James 5:14-16.
¶19 Never forget that Satan knows that his time is short. (Revelation 12:12) He wants to use the futility of life in this world to discourage us and make us give up. May we have full confidence in what is expressed at Romans 8:35-39: “Who will separate us from the love of the Christ? Will tribulation or distress or persecution or hunger or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . To the contrary, in all these things we are coming off completely victorious through him that loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What a statement of trust in Jehovah! Such trust, however, is more than just a feeling. Rather, it is trust that involves the reasoned decisions we make in our day-to-day life. Let us, then, make it our firm resolve to trust in Jehovah completely in times of distress.
In a letter to the U.S. Mint, dated November 20, 1861, Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase wrote: “No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins.” As a result, the motto “In God We Trust” first appeared on a circulating U.S. coin in 1864.
The anxiety described here is said to be a “worried fear, which takes all the joy out of life.” Some translations say “do not be anxious” or “do not be worried.” But such renderings imply that we should not start being anxious or worried. One reference work says: “The Greek verb tense is a present imperative, implying a command to stop doing some action already in progress.”
The eight points are as follows: (1) Do not panic; (2) think positively; (3) open your mind to new types of work; (4) live within your means—not someone else’s; (5) be careful with credit; (6) keep the family united; (7) keep your self-esteem; and (8) set up a budget.
*These Bible-based journals do not endorse or promote any particular medical treatment, recognizing that this is a matter for personal decision. Rather, articles that discuss specific illnesses or disorders are intended to inform readers of the facts as they are currently known.