Young People Ask . . .
Will Being God’s Friend Help Me?
MANY young people grow up today under stresses that would have been unbelievable a generation ago. The authors of a national survey of 160,000 youths explained: “Teenagers tell us that much of their turmoil comes from pressures with which they feel inadequate to deal; from discouragement and sadness that overcome their confidence; and from parents who are not sensitive to their problems.” You may likewise feel that others just do not understand how painful life can be at times for a youth.
Of course, you may have a close friend you can turn to for emotional support, and this may bring some relief. But is it not true that there are agonizing difficulties that you must face alone? How true it is that at times only your own “heart is aware of the bitterness of [your] soul.” (Proverbs 14:10) But there is Someone that completely understands you, and he offers his friendship. Many youths have found that his friendship is a great help even during the most painful of times.
Friendship With God
One youth was asked what she thanked Jehovah God for the most. Her reply: “That we can come to know him and be his intimate friends.” Yes, it is possible to enter into the finest friendship in the universe! The psalmist wrote: “The intimacy with Jehovah belongs to those fearful of him.”—Psalm 25:14.
“Intimacy with Jehovah”—what a precious opportunity! The original Hebrew word conveys the idea of open, confidential speech with someone who is a special friend. Thus, it is a close relationship based on love, a privileged intimacy resulting from mutual trust. As a friend of God, you sense that your true worth as a person is valued by this one who genuinely understands you. But what are the benefits of this friendship?
“My Confidence From My Youth”
Many youths, despite an external bravado, lack inner confidence. “I state my opinions and somebody will come up with theirs and change mine completely,” bemoaned 13-year-old Judy. “I’m not very sure of myself.” Our heavenly Friend, however, provides in his written Word, the Bible, specific guidance for successful living. In fact, advice given in the Bible book of Proverbs is designed to give “a young man knowledge and thinking ability,” enabling him to make his paths straight. (Proverbs 1:1-4; 3:1-6) This can give you confidence! You can know the best way to live.
The Bible, along with Bible aids such as this magazine, provides advice on virtually every aspect of life—from how to choose friends to the proper attitude toward your parents. (Proverbs 1:8, 9; 13:20) Those who heed such direction can thus “turn away from the snares of death.” (Proverbs 14:27) For instance, a girl named Mae saw her fleshly sister flout Bible principles. That sister tragically died a premature death because of her promiscuous life-style. Mae explained how she was able to resist such immorality: “I can reflect clearly on Jehovah’s principles of morality, and this fortifies me. These principles help me see how real Jehovah is and that his way is best.”
Having Jehovah as a friend, however, involves more than just learning his standards. You can experience his personal interest in your life. The Bible tells of King David, who was taught by God from his youth. David became a friend of God, and though he experienced “many distresses,” he actually saw God at work in his life. David spoke about God’s “wonderful works” in his behalf and about Jehovah’s “arm,” or strength, exerted in his life. On the basis of such personal experiences, David wrote: “You are my hope, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah, my confidence from my youth.” (Psalm 71:5, 17, 18, 20) You can have this same confidence as you sense Jehovah’s blessing in your life. As you strive to follow his guidance—despite the challenges—you will indeed be walking with God in a treasured relationship.—Compare Genesis 6:9.
God Helps Us Follow the Right Way
With all the temptations and pressures there are in life, following God’s guidance is not easy. This was especially true of Peggy, who as a youth was a drug addict and a prostitute. She was able to overcome her addiction and make moral changes by studying the Bible, and so she developed a friendship with God. But Peggy continued to face the same pressures that had caused her to look for escape through drugs. When asked how she continued to resist, she replied: “I can only say it is by Jehovah’s spirit.”
Peggy knew that God gives his holy spirit, or active force, to his friends and that this can empower them to live by his standards. (Acts 5:32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11) “There are times now when I get those old feelings back, especially when I am alone,” admits Peggy, “but I just immediately start praying. The ability to overcome these problems is more exciting to me than anything I have ever accomplished in my life.” How encouraging to know that as a friend, God can help us “according to his power which is operating in us [and] do more than superabundantly beyond all the things we ask or conceive.”—Ephesians 3:20.
God’s spirit helps us to develop qualities such as long-suffering, mildness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22, 23) Also, in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses, elders, or shepherds, appointed by holy spirit, are provided by God to give practical assistance. Peggy adds: “I had a lot of support from the congregation, especially the elders. It was a tremendous help.”
“The Rock of My Heart”
“A friend is loving at all times, and becomes a brother in times of trouble.” So states Proverbs 17:17 in The Basic Bible. Especially is a friend needed during “times of trouble.” The psalmist Asaph experienced severe emotional turmoil, yet he had drawn near to God as a friend. Thus, even though his “heart was soured” by inner pain, he said: “God is the rock of my heart.” (Psalm 73:21, 26, 28) Jehovah, who truly understood what Asaph was feeling, gave him emotional support. Jehovah was a stabilizing influence on Asaph so that he would not lose hope and courage.
Our heavenly Friend can likewise be a rocklike foundation for you during adversity. One teenager found this out through personal experience. When Bonnie was 13 years old, some of the girls in her small country school started a vicious, slanderous rumor about her. To Bonnie it seemed as if everyone believed this lie. Many of her classmates gave her a cold reception, even calling her degrading names. “Lots of nights I would come home and cry,” explained Bonnie. “I even felt like killing myself because I hurt so bad inside.” She turned to some of her friends for support. “I tried to talk to people, but they didn’t seem to understand. They made my problem sound as if it were nothing. Sometimes I felt so alone.” What kept her from losing hope in the midst of such turmoil? She continues: “If it weren’t for Jehovah, I would have killed myself. I love him so much. He is my best friend.” Now she knows that it was her friendship with God that helped her to endure that emotionally crushing experience.
Knowing that Jehovah understands our circumstances and knows exactly what has happened is a great comfort when others do not show us the sensitivity we may anticipate. Also, knowing that our Friend is “the Father of tender mercies” is a big help when we are treated unkindly or even abused. Sometimes our own hearts may condemn us, but “God is greater than our hearts and knows all things.” (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4; 1 John 3:20) Having Jehovah’s viewpoint of a matter can be genuinely comforting. For instance, one 13-year-old boy was brutally molested by three men. “Afterward, I was very ashamed and blamed myself for what happened to me,” he admitted. “I was very depressed.” Then he began to do research in Bible-based publications of the Watch Tower Society on the subject of rape. “When I read this information, I broke down and cried. I felt as if a heavy burden had been taken off my shoulders. I was a victim. By relying on Jehovah, family, and friends, I was able to make it through this turbulent time.” What support those Bible-based words provided!
A friendship with God can help in many ways! We can have real confidence in life, develop the inner strength to follow God’s way, and have rocklike support during adversity. But how can we build such a friendship? A future article in this series will explain.
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God can become ‘the rock of your heart’