Endurance Through Hope
“Rejoice in the hope ahead. Endure under tribulation. Persevere in prayer.”—Rom. 12:12, NW.
1. What mental outlook differentiates the mature and immature Christian? So who fully benefits from hope’s power?
MATURE Christians look ahead. They see beyond the present system of things. They seek to do the will of Jehovah, and their minds are attuned to New World living. Immature Christians still see much that interests them in this system of things. They still want their own way. Their minds are still attuned to their own interests. To lay hold on the hope of everlasting life demands maturity, that the servant of Jehovah can direct his mind ever forward, toward the hope ahead. It is the mature Christian, then, that can fully use the amazing power of hope, the power that encompasses the future and thereby governs the present. And by its governing our lives now, hope becomes an uplifting power that produces endurance: “If we hope for what we do not see, we keep on waiting for it with endurance.”—Rom. 8:25, NW.
2. Explain what endurance is and why we need it,
2 Endurance in the slave of Jehovah means that quality of determination that, no matter what the circumstances, never will he relinquish the hope that God’s Word validly offers him. In other words, it means that our ship of faith must never suffer shipwreck, must never stop short of its goal, the haven of the new world. Our navigational map, the Bible, warns: “You have need of endurance, in order that, after you have done the will of God, you may receive the fulfillment of the promise.” (Heb. 10:36, NW) It is of value that we learn how to build up and fortify our hope that, together with faith and love, it may produce this fruitful maturity: “We bear incessantly in mind your work due to faith and your hard effort due to love and your endurance due to your hope.”—1 Thess. 1:3, NW, footnote.
3, 4. (a) Through what way does hope aid our endurance? (b) Show that hope helped Jesus pass the test of endurance.
3 Hope provides a basis for joy. Indeed, the Scriptural command is that we be filled with joy: “Rejoice in the hope ahead.” (Rom. 12:12, NW) Joy bubbles forth from our hope. And this joy works for our endurance. Christ Jesus provided the perfect example of how hope, joy and endurance work toward one another. Jesus’ hope laid the foundation for his immeasurable joy. His hope? Yes, Jesus had a definite hope: “Father, glorify me alongside yourself with the glory which I had alongside you before the world was.” (John 17:5, NW) But Christ’s hope was far grander than merely regaining his prehuman existence. For his hope was to buy the “treasure hidden in the field,” the treasure hidden within the sphere of God’s universal organization; namely, the headship of Jehovah’s capital organization. His hope prompted him to act joyfully: “For the joy he has he goes and sells what things he has and buys that field.”—Matt. 13:44, NW.
4 If Jesus had looked only at the present he could never have endured the agonizing trial that faced him. He could never have met the test of endurance successfully. But his mind was perfectly mature; he rejoiced in the hope ahead. As a result his intense sufferings were “momentary and light,” as are the sufferings of his followers who keep the mental attitude which was in Christ Jesus. (2 Cor. 4:17; Phil. 2:5, NW) That his hope brought joy and his joy, endurance, there can be no doubt: “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, as we look intently at the leader and perfecter of our faith, Jesus. For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake.” (Heb. 12:1, 2, NW) For the sake of endurance we must “look intently” at Christ’s example: his rejoicing in the hope ahead.
5. Why can Jehovah’s servants endure trials with joy?
5 What exultant joy the apostles had when they came into severe trials! “They summoned the apostles, flogged them, and charged them to stop speaking upon the basis of Jesus’ name, and let them go. These, therefore, went their way from before the Sanʹhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy to be dishonored in behalf of his name.” (Acts 5:40, 41, NW) How could they suffer a flogging and rejoice over it? Because of the joy-producing hope that they had. There was reason for joy also because they had passed a severe trial, and by doing so had worked out endurance. “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you meet with various trials, knowing as you do that this tested quality of your faith works out endurance.” (Jas. 1:2, 3, NW) Since Jehovah is the Source of hope he is also the Source of joy. “The joy of Jehovah is your strength.” (Neh. 8:10, AS) Joy, a fruit of the spirit, comes in unbounded measure when we “persevere in prayer,” requesting God’s holy spirit. His spirit enriches our hope.
FORTIFYING OUR HOPE
6. Through what means do we build up our hope?
6 We need knowledge and understanding to build up our hope. All who are living for the new world should arrange for regular Bible study and reading each day. This brings a comfort that strengthens our hope: “All the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4, NW) Besides the “comfort from the Scriptures” there is something else that fortifies our hope. This is endurance. We have already said that hope works for our endurance. True, but endurance also works toward hope. They work in a reciprocal manner. Hope produces endurance and endurance, in turn, builds up our hope.
7, 8. (a) What is the mature view of trials and tribulations? (b) What triumphant combination, based on hope, has Jehovah provided?
7 Are the persecutions and tribulation, then, that come upon Jehovah’s faithful people unprofitable and valueless? Far from it! For every trial endured strengthens and makes more certain our hope. That is why we can “consider it all joy” when trials come upon us. Just how does every trial fortify hope? When we keep integrity we find that our minds are filled with that conscious realization that we are pleasing to God. This approved condition is what builds up our hope. Hope is fortified as the result of a sort of “chain reaction” process:
8 “Let us exult, based on hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but let us exult while in tribulations, since we know that tribulation produces endurance; endurance, in turn, an approved condition; the approved condition, in turn, hope, and the hope does not lead to disappointment.” (Rom. 5:2-5, NW) What a victorious combination Jehovah has given us! Sufferings and imprisonments can only build up hope if integrity is kept. And hope that is founded on faith and that is continually fortified with spiritual food and by endurance will never lead to disappointment. By rejoicing in the hope ahead Jehovah’s witnesses can already experience the thrill and joy of victory, Jehovah’s victory at Armageddon. Indeed, are we not already being led by Christ in his triumphal procession?—2 Cor. 2:14, NW.
9. What does the Devil seek to do, and how does his strategy boomerang when we keep integrity?
9 The New World society has left behind a world without hope. (Eph. 2:12) Satan, “the god of this system of things,” cannot give hope; he has none himself. (Rev. 12:12) So the Devil is envious of the sure and powerful hope possessed by the New World society. He seeks to crush our hope in a low-down manner, through persecution. But the Devil has been a miserable failure as a general; his strategy always works against him when Jehovah’s people keep integrity. For we are the ones who gain because of the tribulation. It not only further advances the good news, but, as Paul said: “Keep on remembering the former days in which, after you were enlightened, you endured a great contest under sufferings, sometimes while you were being exposed as in a theater both to reproaches and tribulations, and sometimes while you became sharers with those who were having such an experience.” (Heb. 10:32, 33, NW) Yes, we gain so much in the way of building up our hope that the apostle tells us to “keep on remembering” the sufferings we endured. You of the New World society who are now undergoing tribulations remember that after this “momentary and light” tribulation has passed you will look back upon the trials with profit. They have brought you an approved condition, have fortified your hope.
OUR HOPE—“ANCHOR FOR THE SOUL”
10. Why do we have “strong encouragement to lay hold on the hope” ahead?
10 A hope based on vague and uncertain testimony could hardly give one strong encouragement to carry on in a work that stirs up the wrath of the Devil-controlled world. How thankful we are that our hope rests upon one whose promises are sure, one who cannot lie! “Men swear by the one greater, and their oath is the end of every dispute, as it is a legal guarantee to them. In this manner God, when he purposed to demonstrate more abundantly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of his counsel, stepped in with an oath, in order that, through two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to the refuge may have strong encouragement to lay hold on the hope set before us,” the hope “of the everlasting life.” (Heb. 6:16-18; Titus 1:2, NW) With our hope anchored in the great unshakable Rock of the universe, what strong encouragement we have to “rejoice in the hope ahead”! (Deut. 32:4) Remember Jehovah has not sworn by anything finite, because that thing might fail and the obligation would be at an end. But he has given a “legal guarantee” in that he has sworn by what is infinite and cannot fail. He has sworn by the greatest personage in the universe, his own unchangeable self!—Mal. 3:6.
11. How does Paul describe the hope ahead? Why so?
11 With keen understanding, then, we read Paul’s next reference to the hope ahead: “This hope we have as an anchor for the soul, both sure and firm.” The apostle speaks of the hope in metaphorical language as an “anchor for the soul.” How perfectly natural for Paul, for he had experienced shipwreck three times and certainly knew the value of an anchor! (Heb. 6:19, NW; 2 Cor. 11:25) He knew that an anchor is fastened in the bottom of the sea to hold a vessel firm during a storm, to keep the ship from being driven out to sea again or dashed upon the rocks. (Acts 27:29) A ship with an anchor firmly fastened can thus ride out a storm in confidence. “Anchor for the soul”—how apt a description for our hope that enables us to endure with unshakable integrity the most violent storms of persecution and not suffer shipwreck concerning our faith!
12. Why are these stormy times for our ship of faith, but what will keep our faith from shipwreck?
12 These are stormy times. Satan would like to drown us in his “sea,” the symbolic term for that unsettled mass of humanity alienated from God and that spumes up the mire of sin and bears up Satan’s visible organization. Yes, these “waters,” more troubled than ever before, are “peoples and crowds and nations.” (Rev. 17:15, NW) Since the Devil has been hurled down to the earth he has visibly agitated the “sea” and has churned up a tidal wave of tribulations in a violent attempt to sink our ship of faith. Our hope is inseparably attached to our faith, and keeps our faith from being shipwrecked. (1 Tim. 1:19) With strong faith our “anchor for the soul” will not be lost; it will not lead to disappointment.
13, 14. How can we avoid great peril to our ship of faith?
13 But even with a strong cable, if an anchor is not sturdy enough a ship may be blown out to sea again and flounder disastrously. So with our spiritual support, the “anchor for the soul.” We have the best ground for fastening our “anchor”—in the promises of Jehovah. But if our “anchor for the soul” is flimsy, not even the good ground can hold our ship of faith steadfast during violent storms of tribulation. Therefore a word of caution: Never think that we can attend Watchtower studies and then, during the meeting, nod and doze off, believing that “just one wink” will not weaken our “anchor for the soul.” If one is dozing at the time vital truths are explained, that one’s ship of faith is not being built up; it is sinking. Then, too, how can one defend his ship of faith, which is attached to his hope, unless he uses all the weapons in the arsenal of revealed truths of God’s Word? “Let us put on the weapons of the light.” “Always [be] ready to make a defense before everyone that demands of you a reason for the hope in you.”—Rom. 13:12; 1 Pet. 3:15, NW.
14 Nor should we think that we can attend any theocratic meeting and expect it to build up our hope if we let our mind wander onto personal interests, “the anxieties of this system of things.” (Mark 4:19, NW) Never allow the thoughts to have free rein, but direct the mind so that it can concentrate on the message being delivered. Drowsy minds cannot concentrate well. So wake up the mind. It tends to be lazy. And if not being alert at studies of Jehovah’s people is a decided danger, then what will happen to the hope of those who become negligent in attending spiritual feasts? Just this: Their “anchor” will not hold. They will seek their own interests, finally drifting back into the world. They may suffer irreparable shipwreck. (2 Pet. 2:20) “That is why it is necessary for us to pay more than the usual attention to the things heard by us, that we may never drift away.” (Heb. 2:1, NW) Do not forget that usual attention is not enough. We must give the very closest attention “to the things heard by us” “that we should no longer be babes, tossed about as by waves and carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men.”—Eph. 4:14, NW.
FRAIL “ANCHOR” LEADS TO SHIPWRECK
15. Why is the matter of keeping our faith and hope so serious today?
15 After Armageddon there will be no more “sea.” (Rev. 21:1) But as long as the demon-agitated “sea” exists we may expect our ship of faith to be attacked from all sides. In time of war ships are attacked today from beneath, by submarines. That Satan will use all the underhanded means he can to torpedo our ship of faith is to be expected, since this is war. “The dragon grew wrathful at the woman, and went off to wage war with the remaining ones of her seed, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” (Rev. 12:17, NW) It is only by waging the right kind of warfare, which is not a carnal one, that our ship of faith can repel the Devil’s attacks. “Go on waging the right warfare, holding faith and a good conscience, which some have thrust aside and have experienced shipwreck concerning their faith.”—1 Tim. 1:18, 19, NW.
16. What part of “the complete suit of armor from God” is the hope ahead? How is it a protecting power?
16 The apostle found hope so powerful that he spoke of it not only as an “anchor for the soul” but also as a protective helmet for a soldier. Put on “as a helmet the hope of salvation.” (1 Thess. 5:8, NW) Hope is a power that protects; so why not wear it as a helmet? A soldier’s helmet protects the head, hence the mind. The Christians’ hope, then, is really part of the “complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil,” for the battle command is to “accept the helmet of salvation.” (Eph. 6:11, 17, NW) Indeed, Jehovah put on the “helmet of salvation,” and now the command applies to his faithful witnesses. (Isa. 59:17) How do we wear the helmet? By thinking of the hope ahead, by filling the mind with theocratic ideas, by studying the daily texts and comments in the Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, by discussing theocratic activities. Hope provides subject matter for meditation and thus protects the mind from old-world thinking. The hope of salvation keeps us thinking ahead, hence “forgetting the things behind.”—Phil. 3:13, NW.
17. Is it possible to scuttle our own ship of faith? How?
17 We wage the wrong kind of warfare and undermine our hope when we entertain backward thoughts. The potential human “shipwreck” concerning the faith takes off his helmet and begins to rejoice in the attractions and luxuries of this world instead of in the hope ahead. He forgets that the “sea” is full of whirlpools of ensnarling commercial pursuits and captivating pleasures. Take the case of Demas, a fellow worker with the apostle Paul. Demas was not new in the truth; he had even been with the apostle during his first imprisonment. (Col. 4:14) But something happened to Demas. He took off his “helmet”; he no longer had a forward-looking mind. Said Paul: “Demas has forsaken me because he loved the present system of things.” (2 Tim. 4:10, NW) Demas evidently became a “shipwreck.” And why? Because Demas stopped thinking on the hope ahead and developed a hope behind in the old world. No doubt Demas thought that having just the necessities of life was “too rugged.” The “fine” things in life became an overwhelming attraction, his very hope. That backward hope pushed Demas to “shipwreck.”
18. What did Jesus show was one of the greatest threats to our ship of faith? So what advice did Paul give?
18 How we must guard, then, against backward thoughts! We cannot rejoice in the hope ahead and at the same time try to rejoice in old-world interests. Today few things endanger our ship of faith as much as what Jesus called the “anxieties over livelihood.” (Luke 21:34, NW, footnote) If our hope is really in the new world, we shall not allow these “anxieties over livelihood” to undermine our hope. Attempts to sit in the lap of luxury may result in a course like Demas’. “So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things,” realizing the peril of striving for more: “Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires which plunge men into destruction and ruin.” (1 Tim. 6:8, 9, NW) The danger of shipwreck is imminent when we cease waging the right kind of warfare: “No man serving as a soldier involves himself in the commercial businesses of life, in order that he may meet the approval of the one who enrolled him as a soldier.”—2 Tim. 2:4, NW.
UNDERMINING HOPE BY “OWN INTERESTS”
19. What hope-undermining trait did the apostle observe in certain Christians, and what does this mean to us today?
19 The precious hope for everlasting life can be undermined very easily by our own selves, by wanting our own way. King Solomon emphasized this danger. (Prov. 14:12; 16:25; 21:2) It was a common obstacle to maturity in the days of the apostles. Few there were that wholeheartedly put Kingdom interests first. Paul observed this, and in speaking of Timothy commented: “For I have no one else of a disposition like his who will genuinely care for the things pertaining to you. For all the others are seeking their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:20, 21, NW) Just think! Of certain Christians Paul knew at that time at Rome, all except Timothy had some self-seeking tendencies that interfered with the work of Christ Jesus! When Timothy dedicated himself to Jehovah he completely submerged his own will so that God’s work might take precedence in his life. He genuinely said: “Here am I; send me.” (Isa. 6:8) Since self-seeking tendencies were prevalent in Paul’s day, how much more likely that they will show up today when worldly interests and the “fine” things in life are so diversified and many! Pioneers, servants, congregation publishers—where do you stand in regard to your “own interests”? Are they in their theocratic place so as not to interfere with the work of Christ Jesus? “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom.”—Matt. 6:33, NW.
20, 21. (a) Illustrate what is meant by one’s “own interests.” (b) Could one’s “own interests” lead to shipwreck? Explain.
20 Do not misunderstand. What Paul called our “own interests” may be perfectly legitimate pursuits; if not unscriptural, they are “lawful.” But as the apostle explained: “All things are lawful; but not all things build up.” (1 Cor. 10:23, NW) The desire for “fine” things and entertainment interests (television, radio, cinema, etc.) may, if care is not exercised, subvert our hope; for of a certainty they do not build it up. We need to fortify our hope so that it will become our very “joy,” as it did for Jesus. Many other nontheocratic interests abound in the world, such as the so-called “hobbies.” These may furnish pleasure and recreation, even profit in worldly goods. But hobbies, like commercial pursuits, may very easily entangle one and undermine one’s hope.
21 Hobbies are so varied today that they range from the sedate stamp-collecting to the vigorous athletic exercising. By way of illustration we shall take the common hobby called “photography.” A brother finds that this hobby furnishes him much pleasure. His camera records many delightful theocratic assemblies and personal experiences. His “own interests” tell him he needs to keep up with all aspects of this hobby. He buys numerous magazines and reads them. Soon he starts to read books on this hobby, spending more and more time on a “lawful” pursuit. Meetings may be missed to keep up with the latest “camera” magazine. He may even feel it necessary to associate with those outside the truth to learn more about his hobby. This brother’s “lawful” interest has grown to a point where it threatens to undermine his hope. If his “own interest” is not checked and put in its theocratic place, shipwreck is ahead.
22. (a) How did Paul value the hope ahead? (b) What hope-weakening danger is associated with seeking one’s “own interests”?
22 Paul valued his hope in Christ so highly that he could say: “I have taken the loss of all things and I consider them as a lot of refuse.” (Phil. 3:8, NW) If our hope is as powerful a force in our lives, we shall let no “anxieties over livelihood” or hobbies or “own interests” ever ruin our hope of salvation. Another danger associated with “seeking own interests” is that sooner or later one will find cause for mixing with worldlings. A worldly person, not interested in the truth, cannot build up your hope, because he has none. He will undermine your useful theocratic habits and your very hope. Associate with those who “rejoice in the hope ahead,” who are New World-minded. “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.”—1 Cor. 15:33, NW.
23. Why do we have impelling reason to cultivate forward-looking minds?
23 The safe course to pursue is to cultivate forward-looking minds. Hope helps us do this. There is so much to hope for, so much to keep the mind looking ahead; for the anointed remnant: heavenly glory, incorruptibility and the sublime privilege of reigning as kings and priests and judges for a thousand years with the new world’s King, Christ Jesus, seeing him “just as he is”! (1 John 3:2, 3, NW; 1 Cor. 15:53, 54; Rev. 20:4, 6) For the other sheep: everlasting life on earth, participating in the work of transforming the earth into a global paradise, sharing in the token fulfillment of the procreation mandate, exercising dominion over the animal creation, witnessing the general resurrection of the dead! (Gen. 9:1; Hos. 2:18; Mark 10:30; Luke 23:43; John 5:28) And the crowning hope for both the spiritual remnant and the other sheep: to see the utter destruction of all of Jehovah’s enemies that the glorious name and word of Jehovah will be everlastingly vindicated. (Judg. 5:31; Rom. 3:4) Truly, the hope of the New World society is summed up in this: That we might “hope in Jehovah from this time forth and for evermore.”—Ps. 131:3, AS.
24. What wholesome benefit comes from rejoicing in the hope ahead?
24 So wear the helmet of salvation. Rejoice in the hope ahead. Think upon your hope; it is true, of serious concern, righteous and lovable. (Phil. 4:8, NW) The more often we rejoice in the hope ahead the more often we shall think of the God of hope, Jehovah. This is wholesome: “Jehovah hearkened, and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that feared Jehovah, and that thought upon his name.”—Mal. 3:16, AS.
FULL ASSURANCE OF HOPE
25. What is necessary if the hope ahead is to be realized?
25 When is our hope valid? It is valid now if we are making public declaration of it. Faith without works is dead. So hope without its being voiced is invalid: “With the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.” “Let us hold fast the public declaration of our hope without wavering.” (Rom. 10:10; Heb. 10:23, NW) So our hope backed up by Jehovah’s spirit and made valid by our public declaration of it is a power. It helps us think ahead, live ahead and work for the hope ahead: “To this end we are working hard and exerting ourselves, because we have rested our hope on a living God.” (1 Tim. 4:10, NW) Our hard work and unfaltering efforts to preach the good news assure us that our work is not in vain and that our hopes will be realized.—1 Cor. 15:58; Heb. 6:11, 12.
26. Summarize the power of hope. With its aid what can we do?
26 So guard that “anchor for the soul.” It will prevent shipwreck. Our hope works out endurance. It brings joy. It encourages us to “persevere in prayer.” It makes us think upon the name of Jehovah. So, then, rejoice triumphantly, you of the New World society. The world’s hope is dark; your hope is bright. The world’s hope is collapsing; your hope nears fulfillment. The world’s hope is based on credulity; your hope is based on faith. The world’s hope leads to disappointment; your hope leads to success. For with the new world, oh so very near, our fondest hopes, whether heavenly or earthly, will soon be realized to our eternal satisfaction. Therefore we can with unflinching endurance “live with soundness of mind and righteousness and godly devotion amid this present system of things, while we wait for the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the great God and of our Savior Christ Jesus.”—Titus 2:12, 13, NW.