Young People Ask . . .
Will God Stay My Friend?
KING DAVID was a man who enjoyed God’s friendship. But at one point he said: “Distresses of my heart have multiplied.” David was suffering not only because of mistreatment by others but also because of his own errors. He began to feel that even God had rejected him, and he prayed: “Turn your face to me, and show me favor; for I am solitary and afflicted.”—Psalm 25:11, 16-19.
Perhaps you too are feeling distressed. Maybe at home or at school you are in a bad situation that is simply overwhelming. Then again, you may have serious health problems or find yourself discouraged because of some weakness that has confronted you. Whatever the case, you need not suffer alone; God generously offers his friendship and support.* If you have already begun developing a relationship with him, you will be comforted to know that he does not abandon his friends when they are having a hard time. Even so, when you are assaulted by troubles, you may feel that God is distant. It may even seem to you that he is not helping you at all. But is that really the case?
“A Thorn in the Flesh”
First of all, please read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. There the apostle Paul tells of how he suffered from something called “a thorn in the flesh.” Likely, the “thorn” was some kind of physical infirmity, perhaps involving his eyesight. Whatever it was, it kept “slapping” him down emotionally. Despite three earnest petitions for God to remove it, the “thorn” remained.
Was Jehovah ignoring Paul’s prayers? Not at all! God said to him: “My undeserved kindness is sufficient for you; for my power is being made perfect in weakness.” Although Jehovah chose not to extract that “thorn,” he did not desert Paul. By means of God’s undeserved kindness, Paul enjoyed a close friendship with him. That was “sufficient” to help Paul cope with his infirmity. As Paul struggled to do so, he would also come to experience God’s sustaining power in a new and personal way.
Help in Coping With Difficulties
Like Paul, you may have some “thorn,” or problem, that pricks you, causing pessimism and discouragement. As in Paul’s case, God may very well allow the trouble to persist. That does not mean that he is no longer your Friend. God told the apostle Paul: “My power is being made perfect in weakness.” If you rely on God’s power and not on your own, you can endure. You may even find that with the help of God’s spirit, you are able to accomplish things you never thought possible. Paul said: “I take pleasure in weaknesses . . . For when I am weak, then I am powerful.”
A young woman named Robin* found this to be true. At age 14 she lost her eyesight because of glaucoma. That same year her mother died suddenly. “I had only Jehovah now,” says Robin about starting to deal with these painful “thorns.” “I knew that if I was going to make it, I had to stick close to him.” Robin did just that, eventually serving as a full-time evangelizer. She says: “I asked Jehovah to help me in everything. He really did.”
Many youths have found that experiencing trials actually helps them draw closer to God. Consider young Jeff. His father walked out on his family, leaving Jeff’s mother to care for seven children. “I felt the lack of a father keenly,” admits Jeff, who was only 12 at the time. “I longed for someone to fill the void I felt every day.” What did Jeff do? “I prayed to Jehovah to help me fill that need.” Jeff worked in harmony with his prayers and became absorbed in spiritual activities. In time, he could sense Jehovah’s hand of support—provided through his strengthening holy spirit and through the Christian congregation. (Compare Psalm 27:10.) Now at age 27 Jeff reflects: “I had no one to whom I could look for security, so I drew very close to Jehovah.” He calls that close relationship “a priceless blessing that came out of this trial.”
How to Obtain God’s Help
Your heavenly Friend will likewise help you through your difficulties. But what must you do? Well, for any friendship to thrive, there must be communication. Prayer is our way of communicating with God. Through it we let him know that we need his help. Prayer is of little value, though, if it is cold or mechanical. Like the youths cited above, you must “pour out your heart” to God! (Psalm 62:8) You may even need to offer supplications. (Philippians 4:6) Supplications are prayers that are especially intense and earnest.
Suppose that you have a problem controlling your thoughts or are having difficulty overcoming a bad habit. Supplicate Jehovah! Beg for his help during times of temptation. This may not always be easy. “When I feel a strong urge to do something wrong, I make myself pray,” admitted Gary. “Sometimes I think, ‘How can I approach Jehovah?’ Yet, I still appeal to him for help. He gives me the strength I need in order to hold on.” Even if it is difficult at first, keep opening your heart to God.
But what if it seems as if your prayers are not being answered? Lora, for example, was struggling to overcome the bad habit of masturbation. “I would talk to Jehovah about the problem honestly,” she explains, “but I just couldn’t seem to stop.” Sometimes God may allow us to demonstrate how serious we are about our requests. (Compare Psalm 88:13, 14.) We must therefore persist in prayer! (Matthew 7:7; Romans 12:12) Lora did just that. At the same time, she began applying suggestions that appeared in material on the subject in Watch Tower Society publications.* In time, she began seeing results. She recalls: “Every time I successfully resisted temptation, I would thank Jehovah because I knew he was with me.” True, you may suffer some relapses as you struggle to gain the mastery over your problem. But as long as you are fighting and are not deliberately giving in to your weaknesses, God will be pleased by your ‘earnest efforts’ and will remain your Friend.—2 Peter 1:5.
Working With God
Another way to avail yourself of God’s help is to accept his invitation to be one of his “fellow workers.” (1 Corinthians 3:9) This includes having a share in helping others learn about God. (Matthew 28:19, 20) When you feel distressed or discouraged, the idea of engaging in any kind of work may not seem appealing. However, “having plenty to do in the work of the Lord” can really help you. (1 Corinthians 15:58) At the very least, you will get your mind off your own problems. (Compare Proverbs 18:1.) Robin, quoted earlier, says of her times of difficulty: “The thing that kept me going was my work for Jehovah!”
Working with God can also help you overcome any lingering feeling that God has abandoned you. When two people work together as a team for a common goal, do they not often draw closer as friends? As you engage in the preaching work, you constantly face challenges. You find yourself turning to God for help. And as God blesses your labors, his friendship becomes more real. You begin to realize the trust that God has placed in you as a coworker. This can be a real boost to your self-confidence.
Carol, for example, was very insecure. Her mother had committed suicide, and her abusive father constantly put her down. But at age 17 she became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and took up the work of preaching. Now after ten years as a full-time evangelizer, she says: “This work has helped me tremendously because I have seen Jehovah’s blessing on me. I say to myself, ‘If God loves me, I am not worthless.’ Being used by Jehovah in declaring his name has made me more secure.”
“Taste and See That Jehovah Is Good”
“Out of all my frights [God] delivered me,” wrote King David after a narrow escape from a life-threatening predicament. (Psalm 34:4, 6, superscription; 1 Samuel 21:10-12) David could thus say from experience: “Taste and see that Jehovah is good, O you people; happy is the able-bodied man that takes refuge in him.”—Psalm 34:8.
Although your life may never be in danger as David’s was, you are sure to experience, at times, some stresses and strains. When ‘distresses multiply in your heart,’ supplicate God. (Psalm 25:17) Do not fear that God will withdraw his friendship. As you patiently endure and experience firsthand Jehovah’s support and care, you will “taste and see” for yourself “that Jehovah is good.” And he will remain your Friend forever.—James 4:8.
See the article “Young People Ask . . . Can I Really Be a Friend of God?” in our July 22, 1995, issue.
Some of the names have been changed.
See chapters 25 and 26 of the book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
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Does God abandon his friends during times of adversity?