Young People Ask . . .
Does Being God’s Friend Matter?
A FRIEND is a special person. The Bible describes a true friend as one who sticks closer than a brother, is constant in his loyalty and friendship, comes to the aid of his companion in distress, and gives counsel to him in faithfulness. (Proverbs 17:17; 18:24; 27:6, 9) Could there be a relationship any better than this?
Many youths sincerely believe that being God’s friend has much more to offer. Yet, perhaps you agree with others who feel that such a relationship with God is impossible or impractical. ‘Lots of people claim they have faith in God,’ they may say, ‘but even believers still suffer and go through life just as those who don’t have faith in him.’
So, what’s the difference? Does getting close to God really matter? Can being God’s friend benefit you at all? The experiences of some teenagers today have shown that the benefits of intimacy with God are unique and surpass the closeness that you can develop with any other friend. How so?
Dealing With Pressure
Some young people, now pursuing a deeper relationship with God, say that being God’s friend has aided them in restraining hostile feelings. Eighteen-year-old Virginia, who was deeply affected by her parents’ separation, confesses: “I held a grudge against my father. I was always angry. As a result, I began hating other people. I would try to make my friends miserable. I wanted others to experience what I was suffering!”
Now, after studying God’s Word, Virginia happily admits: “What a change has come over me! I don’t despise Dad anymore. I have come to realize that he is just a victim of a rotten system backed up by Satan the Devil. I respect him and get along better with everyone now.” Yes, Bible knowledge helps youths like Virginia to understand the reason for today’s anxieties and to learn how to cope with them.
Being close to God can help you deal with seemingly overwhelming pressure. Juana is a 19-year-old girl whose father is an alcoholic. “Sometimes Dad comes home drunk and beats us up,” she says. How does she endure this situation? “When I feel depressed, I know I can go to Jehovah God in prayer and feel strengthened.” Getting to know God and imitating his fine qualities—such as mildness and long-suffering—have also helped Juana to learn how to deal with her father.—Galatians 5:22, 23.
It may not always be easy for you to show respect for your parents and to give them their due honor. But what helps is for you to be convinced of the power of God’s Word, the Bible. The apostle John says that the spiritually strong “young men” in the congregation to which he wrote had even “conquered the wicked one” because ‘the word of God remained in them.’ (1 John 2:14) Hence, Bible counsel such as the following has helped youths like Juana and Virginia: “When being reviled, we bless; when being persecuted, we bear up; when being defamed, we entreat.”—1 Corinthians 4:12, 13.
Too, the apostle Peter says that a fine example—“chaste conduct together with deep respect”—may win over those who cause you pressure in the first place. (1 Peter 3:1, 2) Although Peter directed these words to Christian wives, you can benefit from this counsel as well.
Of course, it is not always easy to put up with pressure, but pouring your heart out to Jehovah in properly motivated prayer can ease the stress. How refreshing it is to know that Jehovah wants to help and has the power “to do so much more than we can ever ask for, or even think of”! (Ephesians 3:20, Today’s English Version; Jeremiah 9:24) Furthermore, the Bible assures us that God “is not far off from each one of us.” (Acts 17:27) Yes, you can have a friend who is always within reach.
Higher Moral Standards
Being God’s friend has also helped youths cultivate higher moral standards that bring contentment and peace of mind. (Matthew 6:13; Psalm 141:3, 4) Sixteen-year-old Sofia admits that she had sexual intercourse with a boy when she was only 14 years old. Looking back, Sofia says: “It wasn’t until I began studying the Bible that I decided to stop dating him.” Since then, she has resisted immoral conduct and says that Bible knowledge has fortified her relationship with Jehovah.
Premarital sex is common in many parts of the world. In Mexico alone, 90 percent of the youths are said to have had a sexual relationship before marriage! As a result, many teenagers have suffered the consequences, such as a premature marriage or an illegitimate childbirth. During just one year, more than one million babies were born to teenage girls in Mexico!
Today, there is often overwhelming pressure to get sexually involved at an early age. But rather than just plunging into sexual immorality, why not first examine the consequences? Besides the immediate physical results, consider how God is affected if we break his law. Satan has challenged God, claiming that under test humans will not be faithful to Him. So Jehovah urges: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me.” (Proverbs 27:11) Think about it: Will you break God’s law and make Satan happy and God sad?—Compare Psalm 78:38-41.
The greatest protection against immorality is for you to develop a personal, intimate relationship with Jehovah.
No Superhuman Temptation
On the other hand, some youths are hesitant about getting involved with God. “I’m so scared,” says one 14-year-old girl, “that when I accept God, he’ll totally take over. I’m so much my own person, but I want to open my heart. I’m really torn apart and confused. I just want to learn and start slowly. I feel if I’m rushed, I’ll get scared and give up.” Do you feel this way?
If so, you can be comforted by the fact that God will help you through any problem in life. “It is no superhuman temptation that you have had,” says the Bible. “And God can be depended on not to let you be tried beyond your strength, but when temptation comes, to give you a way out of it, so that you can withstand it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, An American Translation) What more could you ask?
But you cannot pray for help and then read immoral literature, go to immoral movies, or daydream about or flirt with one of the opposite sex. Although prayer has a high priority—just as communication is essential in any personal relationship—you must work for what you request in prayer!—Luke 11:9, 13.
A Bright Future!
However, the price you must pay—the effort involved in maintaining your friendship with God—is very small in comparison to the many future blessings that God promises. Says 17-year-old Noe: “Jehovah offers us a bright future: life in eternal happiness on a paradise earth! This is something that no man can offer!”
God’s Word promises that “just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more . . . The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” (Psalm 37:10, 29) As the generous Giver of “every good gift and every perfect present,” Jehovah takes delight in rewarding his faithful young Witnesses with blessings.—James 1:5, 17; Psalm 35:27; 84:11, 12; 149:4.
So being God’s friend does matter. God cares for you. When you have a problem, he wants to help. He is always available. He has the power to help you with any problem in life. And only Jehovah can give you everlasting life—the exclusive possession of the friends of God.—Revelation 21:3, 4; Matthew 25:46.
[Picture on page 18]
“Abraham was called ‘Jehovah’s friend.’ Jesus called his followers ‘my friends.’ . . . So I too can become their friend!”