Show a Waiting Attitude!
“I will show a waiting attitude for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.”—MICAH 7:7.
MANY things in life can be viewed either positively or negatively, depending on our attitude. When the Israelites were in the wilderness, they were miraculously provided with manna. They should have looked around at the barren landscape and have been deeply grateful to Jehovah for providing their sustenance. That would have reflected a positive attitude. Instead, they remembered the wide variety of food in Egypt and complained that manna was unappetizing. What a negative attitude!—Numbers 11:4-6.
2 The attitude of a Christian today can similarly make things appear either bright or gloomy. Without the proper attitude, a Christian could easily lose his joy, and that would be serious because, as Nehemiah said: “The joy of Jehovah is [our] stronghold.” (Nehemiah 8:10) A positive, joyful attitude helps to keep us strong and promotes peace and unity in the congregation.—Romans 15:13; Philippians 1:25.
3 Despite living in difficult times, Jeremiah displayed a positive attitude. Even when he witnessed the horrors of Jerusalem’s fall in 607 B.C.E., he could see positive things. Jehovah would not forget Israel, and the nation would survive. Jeremiah wrote in the book of Lamentations: “It is the acts of loving-kindness of Jehovah that we have not come to our finish, because his mercies will certainly not come to an end. They are new each morning. Your faithfulness is abundant.” (Lamentations 3:22, 23) Throughout history, servants of God in the most difficult circumstances have sought to maintain a positive, even joyful, attitude.—2 Corinthians 7:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; James 1:2.
4 Six hundred years after Jeremiah, Jesus was helped to endure because of his positive attitude. We read: “For the joy that was set before [Jesus] he endured a torture stake, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Whatever opposition or persecution Jesus had to face—even the agony of the torture stake—he kept his mind on “the joy that was set before him.” That joy was the privilege of vindicating Jehovah’s sovereignty and sanctifying his name as well as the prospect of bringing great blessings to obedient mankind in the future.
Adopt a Waiting Attitude
5 If we cultivate a mental attitude like that of Jesus, we will not lose the joy of Jehovah even if things do not always happen as and when we expect them to. The prophet Micah said: “As for me, it is for Jehovah that I shall keep on the lookout. I will show a waiting attitude for the God of my salvation.” (Micah 7:7; Lamentations 3:21) We too can show a waiting attitude. How? In many ways. For one thing, we may feel that a brother in authority has acted in error and that an immediate correction is needed. A waiting attitude will allow us to consider, ‘Was he really in error, or am I mistaken? If he was in error, could it be that Jehovah is allowing events to unfold because he feels that the individual will improve and that drastic corrective measures will be unnecessary?’
6 A waiting attitude may be needed if we are troubled by a personal problem or are struggling with a weakness. Suppose we ask for Jehovah’s help, but the problem persists. What then? We have to keep doing whatever is in our power to solve the problem and then have faith in Jesus’ words: “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9) Keep praying, and wait upon Jehovah. At an appropriate time and in his own way, Jehovah will answer your prayers.—1 Thessalonians 5:17.
7 As Bible prophecies undergo fulfillment, our understanding of the Scriptures is refined. At times, though, we may think that a certain clarification is overdue. If it is not forthcoming when we would prefer it, are we willing to wait? Remember, Jehovah saw fit to reveal “the sacred secret of the Christ” a little at a time and over a period of some 4,000 years. (Ephesians 3:3-6) Do we, then, have any reason to be impatient? Do we doubt that a “faithful and discreet slave” has been appointed to give Jehovah’s people “their food at the proper time”? (Matthew 24:45) Why deprive ourselves of godly joy because not everything is completely understood? Remember, Jehovah decides when and how to reveal his ‘confidential matters.’—Amos 3:7.
8 Some may be discouraged because they feel that after many years of faithful service, they may not live to see “the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah.” (Joel 2:30, 31) Still, they can be encouraged when they look at the positive aspect. Peter counseled: “Consider the patience of our Lord as salvation.” (2 Peter 3:15) Jehovah’s patience has allowed millions of additional righthearted ones to learn the truth. Is that not wonderful? Further, the longer Jehovah exercises patience, the more time we have to “keep working out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling.”—Philippians 2:12; 2 Peter 3:11, 12.
9 A waiting attitude helps us not to be discouraged when opposition, sickness, advancing age, or other problems hinder us in Kingdom service. Jehovah expects us to serve him wholeheartedly. (Romans 12:1) However, God’s Son, who feels “sorry for the lowly one and the poor one,” does not demand more than we can reasonably offer; neither does Jehovah. (Psalm 72:13) Thus, we are encouraged to do what we can, patiently waiting until circumstances change—either in this system of things or in that which is to come. Remember: “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name, in that you have ministered to the holy ones and continue ministering.”—Hebrews 6:10.
10 A waiting attitude also helps us to avoid presumptuousness. Some who have become apostate were unwilling to wait. They may have felt that there was a need for adjustments, either in Bible understanding or in organizational matters. Yet, they failed to acknowledge that Jehovah’s spirit moves the faithful and discreet slave to make adjustments in His due time, not when we may feel that this is needed. And any adjustments must be in harmony with Jehovah’s will, not our personal ideas. Apostates allow a presumptuous attitude to warp their thinking and stumble them. But if they had adopted the mental attitude of Christ, they could have retained their joy and remained among Jehovah’s people.—Philippians 2:5-8.
11 Of course, maintaining a waiting attitude does not mean being lazy or inactive. We have things to do. For example, we need to be occupied in personal Bible study and thus show the same keen interest in spiritual things that the faithful prophets and even the angels showed. Speaking of such interest, Peter says: “Concerning this very salvation a diligent inquiry and a careful search were made by the prophets . . . Into these very things angels are desiring to peer.” (1 Peter 1:10-12) Not only is personal study a must but so are regular meeting attendance and prayer. (James 4:8) Those who show an awareness of their spiritual need by regularly taking in spiritual food and associating with fellow Christians demonstrate that they have adopted Christ’s mental attitude.—Matthew 5:3.
Have a Realistic View
12 When God created the first human couple, he reserved to himself the right to set standards of right and wrong. (Genesis 2:16, 17) Adam and Eve wanted independence from God’s guidance, and this resulted in the world we see around us today. The apostle Paul said: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) Six thousand years of human history since Adam’s time have demonstrated the truth of Jeremiah’s words: “I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) To acknowledge that Jeremiah’s words are true is not defeatist. It is realistic. It explains all those long centuries when “man has dominated man to his injury” because humans have ruled independently of God.—Ecclesiastes 8:9.
13 In view of mankind’s situation, Jehovah’s Witnesses realize that there are limits to what can be achieved in the present system of things. A positive attitude can help preserve our joy, but it is not the solution to everything. In the early 1950’s, an American clergyman published a best-selling book called The Power of Positive Thinking. The book suggested that most obstacles can be overcome if they are approached with a positive attitude. Positive thinking is certainly admirable. But experience shows that knowledge, skill, material means, and a host of other factors restrict what we as individuals can accomplish. And on a world scale, the problems are simply too large for humans to solve successfully—however positive their thinking!
14 Because of their realistic view of such matters, Jehovah’s Witnesses are sometimes accused of having a negative attitude. Rather, they are eager to tell people about the only One who can permanently improve mankind’s lot. In this too they imitate the mental attitude of Christ. (Romans 15:2) And they are busy helping people to gain a good relationship with God. They know that in the long run, this will accomplish the most good.—Matthew 28:19, 20; 1 Timothy 4:16.
15 Jehovah’s Witnesses do not ignore the social problems—especially the defiling unscriptural practices—around them. Before an interested person becomes one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, he makes changes, often having to conquer addictive vices that are displeasing to God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Thus Jehovah’s Witnesses have helped responsive ones to overcome drunkenness, drug addiction, immorality, and compulsive gambling. Such reformed individuals have learned to provide for their families in a responsible and honest way. (1 Timothy 5:8) When individuals and families are helped in this way, problems in the community are lessened—there are fewer drug addicts, fewer cases of family violence, and so forth. By being law-abiding citizens themselves and by helping others to change their lives for the better, Jehovah’s Witnesses lessen the load of agencies whose work it is to deal with social problems.
16 So, have Jehovah’s Witnesses changed the moral climate in the world? Well, in the past decade, the number of active Witnesses increased from slightly fewer than 3,800,000 to almost 6,000,000. That is an increase of about 2,200,000, many of whom gave up unrighteous practices when they became Christians. A lot of lives improved! Still, this number is very small when compared with the increase in world population during the same period—875,000,000! Jehovah’s Witnesses have found it a source of joy to help responsive individuals, though realizing that few from among mankind will take the road to life. (Matthew 7:13, 14) While the Witnesses await the worldwide changes for the better that only God can make, they do not get involved in secular reform movements, which often start with good intentions but end up in disillusionment and even violence.—2 Peter 3:13.
17 In taking this course, Jehovah’s Witnesses demonstrate the same confidence in Jehovah that Jesus did while on earth. Back in the first century, Jesus performed miracles of healing. (Luke 6:17-19) He even resurrected the dead. (Luke 7:11-15; 8:49-56) But he did not remove the problem of sickness or conquer the enemy death. He knew that it was not yet God’s due time for this. With the elevated abilities of a perfect man, Jesus could likely have done much to solve serious political and social problems. It seems that some of his contemporaries wanted him to take power and act in this way, but Jesus declined. We read: “When the men saw the signs he performed, they began to say: ‘This is for a certainty the prophet that was to come into the world.’ Therefore Jesus, knowing they were about to come and seize him to make him king, withdrew again into the mountain all alone.”—John 6:14, 15.
18 Jesus refused to become involved in politics or purely social work because he knew that the time for him to assume kingly power and to perform works of healing for everyone everywhere had not yet arrived. Even after his ascension to immortal spirit life in the heavens, he was willing to wait for Jehovah’s appointed time before taking action. (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:34, 35) However, since his enthronement as King of God’s Kingdom in 1914, he is going forth “conquering and to complete his conquest.” (Revelation 6:2; 12:10) How grateful we are to submit to his kingship, while others who claim to be Christians choose to remain ignorant of the Bible’s teachings concerning the Kingdom!
Waiting—Source of Frustration or of Joy?
19 Solomon knew that waiting can be frustrating. He wrote: “Expectation postponed is making the heart sick.” (Proverbs 13:12) Certainly, if a person is entertaining unfounded expectations, the heart can be sickened by disappointment. However, waiting for happy events—perhaps a wedding, the birth of a child, or a reunion with people we love—can fill us with anticipatory joy long before the day of fulfillment. That joy is intensified if we use the waiting time wisely, making preparations for the coming event.
20 When we have complete confidence that our expectations will be fulfilled—even if we do not know when they will be fulfilled—the waiting period does not have to ‘make the heart sick.’ God’s faithful worshipers know that Christ’s Millennial Reign is imminent. They are confident that they will see the end of death and disease. With eager anticipation they joyfully await the time when they will welcome back billions from the dead, including their dead loved ones. (Revelation 20:1-3, 6; 21:3, 4) In these times of ecological crisis, they relish the certain prospect of seeing Paradise established on earth. (Isaiah 35:1, 2, 7) How wise, then, to use the waiting time judiciously, “always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord”! (1 Corinthians 15:58) Keep on taking in spiritual food. Build an ever closer relationship with Jehovah. Seek out others whose hearts move them to serve Jehovah. Encourage fellow believers. Take the fullest advantage of whatever time Jehovah will yet allow. Then, waiting on Jehovah will never make you ‘sick at heart.’ Instead, it will fill you with joy!
Can You Explain?
• How did Jesus show a waiting attitude?
• In what situations do Christians need a waiting attitude?
• Why are Jehovah’s Witnesses content to wait on Jehovah?
• How can waiting on Jehovah be made a source of joy?
1, 2. (a) How did a wrong attitude harm the Israelites in the wilderness? (b) What could happen to a Christian who does not cultivate a proper attitude?
3. How did a proper attitude help Jeremiah during difficult times?
4. What attitude did Jesus maintain, and how did it help him?
5. What is a typical situation in which a waiting attitude will help us to keep a proper view of matters?
6. How will a waiting attitude help someone struggling with a personal problem?
7. In what way will a waiting attitude help our view of a progressively refined understanding of the Bible?
8. How has Jehovah’s patience proved beneficial to many?
9. If we are limited in what we can do in Jehovah’s service, how will a waiting attitude help us endure the situation?
10. What ungodly trait can be avoided by one with a waiting attitude? Explain.
11. How can we profitably use time spent waiting, following whose examples?
12. (a) What independence did Adam and Eve seek? (b) What has been the result of mankind’s following Adam and Eve’s course?
13. What realistic view do Jehovah’s Witnesses have of what can be accomplished by humans?
14. Do Jehovah’s Witnesses have a negative attitude? Explain.
15. How does the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses improve individuals?
16. Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses not get involved in secular reform movements?
17. What did Jesus do to help those around him, but what did he not do?
18. (a) How has Jesus always shown a waiting attitude? (b) How has Jesus’ activity changed since 1914?
19. When does waiting ‘make the heart sick,’ and when is it a source of joy?
20. (a) What wondrous events do we confidently expect to see? (b) How can we find joy while waiting for Jehovah’s purposes to be fulfilled?
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Jesus endured for the joy that was set before him
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Even after years of service, we can maintain our joy
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Millions have improved their lives by becoming Jehovah’s Witnesses